Exports last month spiked 38.6 percent year-on-year to a new high of US$37.41 billion, driven by robust demand for all product categories by major countries that have been reopening their economies following progress in their vaccination drives, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
The increase this month might be 27 to 31 percent as the economic scene abroad looks bright, while a COVID-19 outbreak at home has had little effect on the nation’s manufacturing activity, the ministry said.
“Demand for electronics remains strong, aided by the global pursuit of new technologies, while non-tech products benefit from spending by major countries that aim to strengthen their infrastructure projects,” Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) told an online news conference in Taipei.
A low comparison base last year also helped exports of non-tech products grow much faster than those of tech products, Tsai said.
Shipments of base metals and related products surged 54.2 percent year-on-year, while those of plastic and mineral products rose 74.7 percent and 117.3 percent respectively, she said.
Exports of transportation tools increased 58.4 percent, thanks to the growing popularity of bikes, as well as a recovery in the auto market, Tsai said.
Demand for electronics, as well as devices used in remote working and remote learning, continued to increase, she said.
Shipments of electronics products expanded 29.6 percent to US$13.27 billion, accounting for 35.5 percent of overall exports, the ministry said.
In particular, shipments of semiconductors grew 29.5 percent to US$11.93 billion, fueled by demand for new technologies, it said.
Imports rose 40.9 percent to US$31.25 billion, giving Taiwan a trade surplus of US$6.16 billion, a bump of 27.9 percent from May last year, the ministry said.
Imports of agricultural and industrial raw materials picked up 43.6 percent to US$211.83 billion, helped by price hikes, while capital equipment, a critical gauge of export needs, soared 36.5 percent, Tsai said.
Specifically, imports of semiconductor equipment picked up 46.3 percent as local tech firms aggressively acquired new equipment for technology upgrades and capacity expansion, she said, adding that chip shortages continued to plague critical sectors around the world.
Trading partners worldwide increased purchases of Taiwanese goods last month, but resurging COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia could weaken regional demand next quarter, Tsai said, citing Formosa Plastics Group (FPG, 台塑集團), Taiwan’s largest industrial conglomerate.
FPG is looking at flat sales or a mild decline in business next quarter from this quarter, as the virus outbreak weakens economic activity.
For the first five months of this year, the nation’s exports expanded 30.2 percent year-on-year to US$170.32 billion, while imports gained 26 percent to US$143.61 billion, ministry data showed.
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