Taipei, Feb. 17 (CNA) Taiwan's exports have been overshadowed by a sense of pessimism after recording a year-on-year drop of 13 percent in January, the 12th straight month they have seen a decline.
Yeh Maan-tzwu (葉滿足), director of the Statistics Department under the Ministry of Finance (MOF), has speculated that exports could continue to post negative growth in February because of the nine-day Lunar New Year holiday in the month.
Exports have sustained a double-digit drop for eight consecutive months, the worst since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Yeh said Tuesday, adding that exports in the first three months of the year could all be negative.
If this is the case, Taiwan will experience again the longest decline in exports of 14 consecutive months, which occurred during the financial storm, Yeh said.
She attributed the January drop to weak momentum in global economic growth and fluctuations in agricultural and industrial raw material prices at the bottom of the scale, which affected the willingness of businesses to purchase inventory.
According to customs data released by the MOF Tuesday, exports fell 13 percent year-on-year to US$22.2 billion in January.
Exports to China and Hong Kong, Taiwan's main markets, dropped 19.3 percent in January, while those to countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations fell 8.7 percent. Exports to the United States slid 5.8 percent, and those to Japan were down 1.8 percent, according to the data.
Notably, however, exports to Europe rebounded from a drop for 13 consecutive months to show growth of 3.4 percent last month, the data shows.
Imports for the month, meanwhile, fell 11.7 percent from a year earlier to US$18.69 billion. As a result, the trade surplus for the month was US$3.51 billion.
(By Bernie Chiu and Elizabeth Hsu) ENDITEM/J