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Exports up for 15th straight month in December (update)

2018/01/08 21:32:21

Taipei, Jan. 8 (CNA) Taiwan's exports grew year-on-year for the 15th consecutive month in December on the back of solid global demand at a time when the world economy is on the road to recovery, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said Monday.

The strong showing helped Taiwan report exports that saw a rise to the US$300 billion mark for 2017 from US$280.4 billion a year earlier, according to data compiled by the MOF.

In December, Taiwan's outbound sales were the highest monthly total ever, at US$29.51 billion, up 14.8 percent from a year earlier and up 2.2 percent from the previous month, the data shows. December was the second straight month in which the country's exports grew at a double-digit pace.

Imports for December gained 12.2 percent from a year earlier and rose 2.0 percent from the previous month to US$23.38 billion, representing a trade surplus of US$6.13 billion, up US$1.28 billion from a year earlier, the data shows.

In 2017, exports totaled US$317.39 billion, up 13.2 percent from a year earlier, while imports hit US$259.51 billion, up 12.6 percent from the previous year, representing a trade surplus of US$57.88 billion, up US$8.13 billion year-on-year, according to the MOF.

The export growth in 2017 was the highest since 2010, when a year-on-year increase of 35.2 percent was recorded, the ministry said.

The 2017 outbound sales figure was the second-highest in history, trailing only US$320.09 billion in 2014, the MOF data shows.

Commenting on the record high December exports, Tsai Mei-na (蔡美娜), director of the MOF's statistics department, said that in addition to a strong global economic recovery, deferred shipments of Apple's premium iPhone X from November also contributed to the month's growth.

Tsai said a peak in outbound sales usually tends to appear in October, but added that the situation changed last year, which helped to boost the entire 2017 exports above the US$300 billion level.

In December, exports of electronic components rose 20.5 percent from a year earlier to US$10.35 billion, a new high, marking the fourth consecutive month in which Taiwan-made electronic component exports topped US$10 billion, the MOF said.

Among electronic component exporters, sales of semiconductor firms rose 22.1 percent year-on-year to US$8.89 billion, while exports in information/communications and audio-video devices rose 16.9 percent from a year earlier to US$3.15 billion, the MOF said.

Machinery exports in December rose 27.6 percent from a year earlier to US$2.41 billion, while base metal exports gained 16.2 percent to US$2.67 billion in December. Outbound sales in chemical items also gained 16.2 percent to US$2.67 billion, the ministry added.

In terms of Taiwan's major buyers, exports to China/Hong Kong rose 16.8 percent from a year earlier to US$12.81 billion in December, and outbound sales to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc grew 11.3 percent to US$5.26 billion, the MOF said.

Exports to the United States, Europe and Japan also rose 12.4 percent, 20.7 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively, from a year earlier to US$3.30 billion, US$2.71 billion and US$1.80 billion last month, the MOF added.

Tsai said she expects exports to continue a double digit increase in January on the back of more working days this year as the Lunar New Year holiday will not take place until February. Last year, the holiday was in January.

She said high-tech items such as mobile devices, applications in the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and biometric recognition are expected to serve as drivers to export growth in the first quarter of this year.

(By Chiu Po-sheng and Frances Huang)