The nation’s manufacturing production value dropped 9.21 percent year-on-year to NT$3.33 trillion (US$101.93 billion) last quarter, mainly affected by the falling prices of international crude oil and some petrochemical firms’ scheduled annual maintenance, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
“The annual decline in manufacturing production value marks the largest scale of decline since the fourth quarter of 2009,” Department of Statistics Deputy Director-General Yang Kuei-hsien (楊貴顯) said by telephone.
The latest manufacturing data came after the government last week lowered its GDP growth target for this year to 1.56 percent on sluggish exports.
The poor economic data have made local investors jittery, with the benchmark TAIEX yesterday closing 1.9 percent lower at 8,021.84 points, the lowest in nearly 23 months.
Yang said the production value of chemical materials plunged 14.37 percent annually to NT$463.2 billion last quarter, while basic metal industry manufacturing production value plummeted 18.17 percent to NT$324.4 billion from a year earlier, due to falling prices of steel products.
The combined production value of computer, electronics and optical products fell 21.51 percent to NT$172.4 billion last quarter, mainly because of softer-than-expected demand for smartphones, notebook computers and LCD TVs, Yang said.
Hit by weak demand for flat panels, solar cells and LED products, the electronics component industry posted a 3.4 percent annual decline in production value to NT$904 billion last quarter, Yang said.
Due to increased international competition, the production value of the automobile industry fell 8.13 percent to NT$104.8 billion from a year earlier, he added.
However, production value in the semiconductor industry surged 12.94 percent to NT$295.3 billion, while machinery goods grew 2.45 percent to NT$173.9 billion last quarter from a year earlier, data showed.
Yang said that although machinery goods showed an increase in production value from a year earlier, production volume in the industry fell month-by-month last quarter due to fewer export orders, indicating falling average selling prices and slowing growth momentum.
The statistics indicated that Chinese orders for machine tools last month dropped 20 percent from a year earlier, suggesting the industry’s production value might continue to fall this quarter.
Overall, it is possible that the manufacturing sector might see another annual decline in production value this quarter, as some negative factors — such as cheap international crude, weak global economic growth and fierce international competition — could still put pressures on industries, Yang said.
“Whether the manufacturing sector’s performance picks up this quarter will depend on export orders for the semiconductor industry,” Yang said.
The ministry is scheduled to release last month’s export orders performance this afternoon.
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