Taipei, Nov. 8 (CNA) Taiwan's exports fell for a second month in a row in October, hurt by the ongoing trade skirmish between the United States and China and a high base of comparison set in the same month in 2018, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said Friday.
Taiwan's exports in October were down 1.5 percent from a year earlier at US$28.99 billion after falling 4.6 percent in September, according to data compiled by the MOF.
On a month-on-month basis, however, exports in October were up 3.2 percent, the data showed.
Taiwan's imports also fell in October, declining 4.1 percent from a year earlier to US$25.04 billion. That left a trade surplus for the month of US$3.95 billion, up US$630 million from a year earlier.
For the first 10 months of 2019, exports were down 2.4 percent, imports were down 1.5 percent, and the trade surplus was down 7.9 percent.
Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) said October's export decline was again the result of the trade war between Washington and Beijing, which she said has hurt global economic momentum and lowered demand worldwide.
Weakening global demand for products in old economy sectors pushed down the value of exports in those categories, but the arrival of the peak season for high-tech gadgets gave a boost to the electronics and information and communications sector, Tsai said.
Exports of Taiwan-made electronics components, which accounted for more than 36 percent of the country's total outbound sales, reached US$10.65 billion, up 5.3 percent from a year earlier.
Within the category, semiconductor exports were up 8.5 percent from a year earlier at US$9.58 billion, the data showed.
Exports of information and video/audio products also rose 20.8 percent from a year earlier to US$3.84 billion in October due to strong demand for gadgets, such as computers, computer peripherals, computer data storage devices and routers, the data indicated.
In old economy sectors, however, base metal exports fell 13.4 percent to US$2.32 billion, machinery exports fell 11.9 percent to US$1.90 billion and plastics/rubber exports slid 14.3 percent to US$1.87 billion in October from a year earlier.
In terms of export markets, China and Hong Kong remained Taiwan's biggest export destinations in October, but exports to those markets were down 3.1 percent from a year earlier to US$12.15 billion.
Of Taiwan's other biggest export markets, the only increases in export sales year-on-year in October were to the United States (up 17.9 percent to US$3.97 billion) and Japan (up 1.5 percent to US$2.06 billion).
Exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (down 8.3 percent to US$4.72 billion) and Europe (down 6.5 percent to US$2.45 billion) both fell in October year-on-year.
Tsai said Taiwan could report positive growth in exports in November because of strong demand for 5G-related equipment and a relatively low base of comparison during the same period last year.