Exports last month surged 36.8 percent from a year earlier to a record high of US$34.27 billion, as demand from around the world for technology and non-tech products gained momentum, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
The momentum looks set to continue this month with a 3 to 8 percent increase, despite the week-long Lunar New Year holiday beginning tomorrow and running through Tuesday next week, Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) said.
“The strong showing is ... more than double the 5.2 percent increase the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics predicted in November last year,” Tsai told a news conference, adding that the statistics agency would update its projection on Saturday next week.
Major technology firms have asked employees to work over the holiday to help ease supply constraints, Tsai said.
There are acute shortages of wafers, flat panels, passive components, printed circuit boards and other electronic parts, as the COVID-19 pandemic is boosting sales of TVs, laptops and gaming consoles, she said.
Exports of electronics soared 47.5 percent year-on-year to an unprecedented US$13.29 billion, while semiconductors increased 46.3 percent to US$11.92 billion, the ministry’s monthly report showed.
Chip shortages have also prompted automakers in Japan, Germany and the US to slow operations, despite clear order visibility.
Exports of optical devices spiked 53.5 percent to US$1.2 billion, driven primarily by avid demand for panels used in TVs, notebook computers and tablets, Tsai said.
Inventory building extended to non-tech products, which all reported double-digit growth from a year earlier, with the exception of mineral products, which shrank 36.5 percent year-on-year, dragged by cheaper oil prices and lackluster demand, she said.
Demand from Asia accounted for 72.6 percent of Taiwanese exports, as ASEAN member states, China and Japan fared better during the pandemic than Europe and the US, Tsai said.
Exports to China soared 57 percent, while those to Japan grew 21.5 percent and shipments to Southeast Asian countries jumped 40.7 percent, the report said.
Shipments to the US rose 21.9 percent, while exports to Europe increased 15.8 percent, the report showed.
Imports bounced 29.9 percent to US$28.08 billion, giving Taiwan a trade surplus of US$6.19 billion, up 80.2 percent from a year earlier, the report said.
Inbound shipments of electronics rose 48.9 percent, while information and communications technology products grew 70 percent, Tsai said.
Imports of capital equipment rose 19.5 percent to US$4.76 billion, the report said, consistent with positive capital spending guidance by local tech firms.
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