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Export orders down over 10% in December

2019/01/21 21:27:39

CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 21 (CNA) Export orders for December fell more than 10 percent from a year earlier in December because of weakening global demand for tech gadgets and falling raw material prices, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said Monday.

The MOEA said an ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China also hurt Taiwanese suppliers because of its negative impact on global trade.

The total value of export orders placed with Taiwan-based companies fell 10.5 percent in December from a year earlier to US$43.38 billion, the steepest year-on-year decline since April 2016, when export orders declined 11.1 percent, MOEA data showed.

For the fourth quarter, export orders fell 2.6 percent year-on-year to US$140.05 billion, but for 2018 as a whole they rose 3.9 percent to a record US$511.82 billion, helped by a strong performance in the first half of the year, the MOEA said.

Lin Li-chen (林麗貞), director of the ministry's Department of Statistics, said global demand for smartphones was weaker than expected, hurting orders in December for information/communications devices and electronics components supplied by Taiwan-based companies.

Export orders placed with Taiwanese information/communications device suppliers during the month fell 13 percent from a year earlier to US$13.84 billion, hurt by saturation in global smartphone market, the MOEA said.

Export orders received by Taiwanese electronics component vendors fell 8 percent from a year earlier to US$11.63 billion, and also reflected a fall in orders in mining devices used for cryptocurrency transactions, the MOEA said.

The optoelectronics industry also struggled, its export orders down 7.5 percent to US$2.02 billion year-on-year because of a continued decline in large-sized flat panel prices and weakening demand for medium and small-sized screens, Lin said.

It was also the only major category to see export orders decline for all of 2018, falling 8.5 percent to US$24.66 billion.

One of the biggest victims of the Washington-Beijing trade dispute in December, Lin said, was the local machinery sector, which saw a 22.5 percent decline in export orders for the month to US$1.68 billion on weaker demand from China.

A weakening global energy market sent raw material prices lower in December, causing the value of export orders in plastics and rubber products in Taiwan to drop 5.1 percent from a year earlier to US$1.97 billion.

The United States remained the biggest source of export orders to Taiwan in December, placing US$13.94 billion in orders with Taiwan-based companies, up 5.6 percent year-on-year, according to the MOEA.

But export orders from China/Hong Kong fell 10.3 percent from a year earlier to US$9.84 billion, and orders from Europe fell 28.1 percent to US$8.64 billion, the ministry said.

Orders from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations dropped 21.8 percent from a year earlier to US$3.52 billion in December, but exports placed by Japanese buyers were up 2.6 percent year-on-year to US$2.59 billion, the ministry added.

For the year, export orders from the U.S. and China rose 6.2 percent and were up 2.8 percent from Japan, but orders from Europe and ASEAN members were down 0.3 percent and 1.8 percent respectively.

The MOEA said at a time when the global economy is slowing down, Taiwan's export orders for January are forecast to range between US$37 billion and US$38 billion, which would be down 11.8-14.1 percent from a year earlier.

(By Tsai Peng-min and Frances Huang)