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Taiwan reports export growth for 16th straight month in January

2018/02/08 15:26:58

CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 8 (CNA) Taiwan's exports for January grew from a year earlier, marking the 16th consecutive month in which the country's outbound sales rose on a year-on-year basis, in the wake of solid global demand, according to the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

Citing the latest statistics, the MOF said that Taiwan's exports totaled US$27.38 billion in January, up 15.3 percent from a year earlier, after a 14.8 percent year-on-year increase in December. The latest outbound sales were the highest-ever for the month of January in Taiwan, and the first time January exports topped the US$27 billion mark, the ministry's data shows.

On a month-on-month basis, however, January exports fell 7.2 percent, the data shows.

According to the data, Taiwan's imports for January hit US$24.96 billion, up 6.8 percent from a year earlier and also up 23.3 percent from a month earlier, leaving a trade surplus of US$2.42 billion, down US$1.08 billion from a year earlier.

The higher year-on-year export growth in January also resulted from a relatively low comparison base over the same period of last year caused by the lower number of working days due to last year's Lunar New Year holiday, the MOF said.

The Yuanta-Polaris Research Institute, one of Taiwan's leading economic think tanks, said that as the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday will start Feb. 15, the fewer business days for February could affect Taiwan's export performance.

Echoing the think tank, Tsai Mei-na (蔡美娜), director of the MOF's statistics department, said she expects exports for February to fall from a year earlier to break the 16-month rising streak.

In January, Taiwan's exports in electronic components, which accounted for more than 30 percent of the country's total outbound sales, rose 11.8 percent from a year earlier to US$8.69 billion, with exports of integrated circuits up 11.9 percent year-on-year at US$7.42 billion.

Tsai said the increase in electronic component exports at a lower rate than the overall growth rate in January reflected slow season effects for the month, adding that the lower-than-expected shipments of the premium iPhone X also contributed to the underperforming electronic component business. Many Taiwanese manufacturers are part of the Apple supply chain.

As a result, Tsai said, it was the first time in five months that the electronic component sector failed to post exports above the US$10 billion level.

The MOF said exports in information communications and video and audio devices rose 1.03 percent from a year earlier to US$2.71 billion in January, while optoelectronic device exports also grew 3 percent to US$977 million.

On the back of higher international crude oil prices, exports in chemical/rubber and related products for January rose 34.9 percent from a year earlier to US$2.17 billion, while outbound sales in machinery were boosted by solid demand for production equipment in a wide range of industries including the semiconductor business, up 18.5 percent to US$2.21 billion, the MOF added.

In January, exports to China and Hong Kong, which made up about 40 percent of Taiwan's total outbound sales rose 21.1 percent from a year earlier to US$11.16 billion, ahead of exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc, which totaled US$5.06 billion, up 13.9 percent, the data shows.

Outbound sales to the United States for January rose 11.1 percent from a year earlier to US$3.14 billion, while exports to Europe and Japan grew 4.3 percent and 14.4 percent respectively, to US$2.49 billion and US$1.90 billion, the data indicates.

As for imports, Tsai said, the January figure hit a 43-month high, indicating strong domestic demand, in particular in consumer products such as food and cosmetics.

Imports in consumer products for January hit a new high of US$3.3 billion, the MOF said.

(By Chiu Po-sheng and Frances Huang)