The industrial production index last month rose for the 15th consecutive month on an annual basis on the back of rising demand for semiconductor and electronic products, due to the stay-at-home economy and demand for 5G-related devices amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
On a monthly basis, industrial production and manufacturing output dropped 9.26 percent and 9.88 percent respectively, the ministry said.
It is positive about this month’s outlook and expects a local COVID-19 outbreak to scarcely dampen manufacturing production, it said, citing a survey.
More than half of the manufacturers responding to the survey expected the uptrend over the past 15 months to extend into this month, the poll showed.
Manufacturing production is expected to rise 14.4 to 17.8 percent year-on-year this month, and 1.5 to 4.5 percent month-on-month, the ministry said.
“The pandemic did not directly affect manufacturing activities, as there are only sporadic reported cases. Production remains normal,” Department of Statistics Deputy Director-General Huang Wei-jie (黃偉傑) told a virtual news conference. “Besides, overseas demand is climbing higher, which will continue to support growth in our manufacturing sector.”
More manufacturers, including notebook computer maker Compal Computer Inc (仁寶) and electronic component maker Lite-On Technology Corp (光寶科技), yesterday each reported one new COVID-19 infection, the latest in a slew of cases affecting chipmakers Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) and Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), as well as flat-panel maker AU Optronics Corp (友達光電) since last week.
The ministry is examining how the outbreak would affect local manufacturers if the COVID-19 alert is raised to level 4 from the current level 3, Huang said.
It is preparing measures to avoid any production disruption that could throw global supply chains into disarray or upend the supply of daily necessities in Taiwan, he said.
The industrial production index last month climbed 13.62 percent year-on-year to 122.8, the best April figure on record.
That was backed by strong manufacturing production — constituting 90 percent of the nation’s industrial production — which expanded 14.24 percent year-on-year.
The semiconductor segment expanded at an annual rate of 16.02 percent to an all-time high, while the flat panel segment increased 26.37 percent to the highest in eight years, ministry data showed.
The supplies of chips and flat panels have been constrained over the past few quarters, and the shortages are expected to stay until the end of the year at the earliest, companies said.
Production in the automotive components segment jumped 33.76 percent, the fastest growth among all segments, the data showed.
Separately, retail and restaurant sales grew at an annual rate of 18.3 percent and 37.3 percent respectively to NT$329.6 billion (US$11.8 billion) and NT$45.8 billion last month, both records for the month of April, the ministry said.
The ministry expects retail sales to shrink 1.5 to 4.5 percent year-on-year this month, with department stores bearing the brunt of government restrictions aimed to curb the outbreak.
Restaurant sales are expected to contract 15.5 to 18.5 percent year-on-year as people refrain from dining out, after a brief rebound last month from 15 consecutive months of decline, the ministry predicted.
Sales in the wholesale sector are expected to expand 12.5 to 15.5 percent annually, after a 22.2 percent increase to NT$1.01 trillion last month due to robust growth in machinery tools amid strong demand for 5G-related devices, computers and consumer electronics, the ministry said.
Strong outbound demand is to offset weakness in domestic demand for clothing and other non-essential items, the ministry said.
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