Taipei, Aug. 20 (CNA) The value of export orders received by Taiwanese companies fell in July from a year earlier amid weak global demand, according to government figures released Monday.
Export orders totaled US$35.94 billion in July, down 4.4 percent from the same month of last year and down 1.2 percent from June, Ministry of Economic Affairs figures showed.
The measure is an indicator of shipments in the next one to three months and could signal that the country's export slump is likely to continue.
It was the fifth consecutive month in which export orders posted negative annual growth, Beatrice Tsai, deputy director-general of the ministry's Department of Statistics, told a press briefing.
She attributed the negative annual growth to a high base period, as export orders in July 2011 totaled US$37.59 billion, the fourth-highest monthly total in Taiwan's history.
The weak global market and gloomy economic outlook also contributed to the slump, she said, predicting that export orders would likely continue their downward trend in August for the same reasons.
She expected, however, that the decline in August would "likely narrow obviously," as "the situation in July seems to be the worst."
June export orders from five major markets all lost ground, while in July, Tsai said, orders from the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries rose 1.4 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, from a year ago.
"It means the downward trend is slowing down and most likely to hit a low (in July)," said Tsai.
However, since global demand has been dragged down by a gloomy economic outlook caused by the eurozone debt crisis and weak markets in China and the U.S., the recovery will not be strong, she warned.
In the first seven months of the year, Taiwan received export orders worth US$248.69 billion, down 1.4 percent, or US$3.6 billion, from a year earlier.
By destination, although China remained Taiwan's largest source of export orders, orders from there fell 5.5 percent in July from a year earlier to US$9.12 billion, the fifth consecutive monthly decline.
Export orders from Japan and Europe also slid 5.4 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively, in July from a year ago to US$3.48 billion and US$6.2 billion.
The main bright spot was the ASEAN countries, which totaled US$4.08 billion, replacing Japan to become Taiwan's fourth-largest export destination, statistics show.
By product, worldwide orders for electronic goods and machinery products recorded positive growth in July, while other product categories lost ground.
Global orders for information and communications technology products such as handsets and notebooks were the main cause of the overall July decline. They fell 5 percent year-on-year to US$8.92 billion, according to the statistics.
Tsai attributed the drop to a product transition period for new products and said figures may pick up on the back of the release of new models of ultrabooks, tablet PCs and smartphones, including Apple Inc.'s iPhone 5.
Orders for chemicals and basic metals also showed weakness, sliding 18.9 percent and 15.5 percent from a year earlier to US$1.68 billion and US$2.32 billion, respectively, the statistics showed.
Taiwan's exports contracted for the fifth consecutive month in July and fell 5.8 percent in the first seven months of the year from the same period a year earlier.
(By James Lee)