Taipei, Jan. 7 (CNA) Taiwan's exports for December rose from a year earlier for the second consecutive month with the electronics sector in traditional peak season seeing an increase in shipments, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said Tuesday.
Data compiled by the ministry showed Taiwan's exports rose 4.0 percent from a year earlier to US$29.50 billion after a 3.3 percent year-on-year increase in November.
On a month-to-month basis, Taiwan's outbound sales also rose 3.2 percent in December, the data indicated.
The MOF said the country's imports for December rose 13.9 percent from a year earlier to US$26.99 billion with a trade surplus of US$2.50 billion, down US$2.17 billion from a year earlier.
In the fourth quarter of last year, Taiwan's exports hit a new quarterly high of US$87.06 billion, up 1.9 percent from a year earlier on the back of strong shipments of tech gadgets boosted by peak season effects.
However, Taiwan's outbound sales for 2019 fell 1.4 percent from a year earlier to US$329.34 billion as the country's exporters felt the pinch from falling global demand as a result of trade disputes between the United States and China in the year, the MOF said.
Imports for the whole year totaled US$285.86 billion, up 0.4 percent from a year earlier with a trade surplus of US$43.48 billion, down US$5.74 billion from a year earlier, the MOF added.
Despite the fall in exports for 2019, Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) told reporters that Taiwan still outperformed neighboring countries.
According to Tsai, Japan suffered a 4.5 percent decline in the first 11 months of last year, while South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong registered a 10.3 percent, 6 percent and 6.9 percent decline, respectively.
In December, Taiwanese electronics component makers posted US$10.44 billion in exports, up 11.9 percent from a year earlier as semiconductor makers, which are the backbone of the electronic components industry, enjoyed a 14.2 percent year-on-year increase to rake in US$9.39 billion in outbound sales on the back of solid global demand, the MOF said.
Information, communications and video/audio device makers saw exports rise 15.1 percent from a year earlier to US$4.07 billion also in the wake of peak season effects, MOF added.
However, old economy industries still felt the pinch from global trade friction in December, largely registering a fall in exports in December, which limited growth in the month, according to the ministry.
Exports of base metals, machinery, plastics/rubber items and chemical products fell 6.1 percent, 7.6 percent, 9.3 percent, and 12.8 percent, respectively, from a year earlier to US$2.37 billion, US$2.08 billion, US$1.86 billion and US$1.52 billion in December, the data showed.
The MOF said China and Hong Kong remained the largest buyers of Taiwan's merchandise valued at US$12.23 billion in December, up 6.2 percent from a year earlier. This accounted for about 41.5 percent of Taiwan's total outbound sales, and the growth was largely on the back of rising demand for Taiwan's electronics components and transportation equipment.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations came second with exports to the bloc at US$4.44 billion, down 3.5 percent from a year earlier, followed by the United States (U$4.20 billion, up 12.9 percent), Europe (US$2.73 billion, down 3.4 percent), and Japan (US$1.97 billion, up 5.5 percent), the MOF said.
For 2019, Taiwan's exports to China and Hong Kong fell 4.1 percent from a year earlier to US$132.23 billion, making them the largest buyers of Taiwanese exporters, ahead of the ASEAN bloc (US$53.92 billion, down 7.2 percent), the U.S (US$46.27 billion, up 17.2 percent), Europe (US$29.78 billion, down 4.8 percent), and Japan (US$23.29 billion, up 2.1 percent), the MOF added.
Looking ahead, Tsai said Taiwan expects to see exports grow steadily in the first quarter of this year as global trade friction has showed signs of easing, which will help boost demand and lift raw material prices.