Taiwan’s export orders increased 14.6 percent year-on-year to US$59.1 billion last month, the 20th consecutive month of annual growth and the highest for October on record, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
However, orders fell 6 percent on a monthly basis, it said.
Historical patterns show that export orders in October are generally stronger than those in September, as retailers gear up for the Christmas holiday season in the US and Europe, Department of Statistics Director Huang Yu-ling (黃于玲) said.
However, factors unique to this year accounted for the monthly slide, Huang said, citing a drop in COVID-19-related demand for electronics, such as laptops, and supply chain issues induced by component shortages and port congestion, which has disrupted production.
Last month, orders for information and communications technology products totaled US$18.5 billion, down 4.5 percent month-on-month, but up 8.7 percent year-on-year, while electronic product orders were US$17.2 billion, down 11.7 percent monthly, but up 13.2 percent annually, the ministry said.
Orders for optical products expanded 14.1 percent year-on-year but fell 9.7 percent monthly to US$2.59 billion last month, driven by demand for flat panels and backlight modules, it said.
“Many manufacturers are sitting on a lot of components that can’t be made into products due to a lack of a few key components, while others cannot deliver completed goods to their customers because the ports are backed up, limiting their ability to take orders,” Huang said.
The non-tech sector reported stable order growth last month, with base metal orders totaling US$3.26 billion, up 0.7 percent monthly and 39.1 percent annually, and machinery orders reaching US$2.26 billion, up 5.6 percent from September and 21 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, orders for plastics and rubber products rose 28.5 percent year-on-year to US$2.64 billion and those for chemical goods increased 48.4 percent annually to US$2.19 billion.
By country, the biggest source of orders was the US at US$17.0 billion last month, down 11.7 percent from the previous month, but up 0.5 percent from a year earlier.
China was the second-biggest source of orders at US$14.34 billion, down 10.5 percent month-on-month, but up 21.7 percent year-on-year, ministry data showed.
“An optimistic global economic outlook plus higher commodity prices meant demand and prices were up for the non-tech sector,” Huang said.
The ministry expects export orders this month to reach US$59 billion to NT$60.5 billion, which would translate into monthly growth of minus-0.1 percent to 2.5 percent and annual growth of 2.1 percent to 4.7 percent, Huang added.
“The businesses we surveyed were evenly split on whether export orders will go down or up next month,” Huang said. “So, taking historical data into account, we predict export sales will be either flat or up very slightly on a month-on-month basis.”
For the first 10 months of the year, export orders totaled US$540.73 billion, up 30.2 percent from the same period last year.
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