Taipei, Feb. 20 (CNA) Total export orders received by Taiwan-based companies fell year-on-year in January due to fewer work days in that month because of the Lunar New Year holiday and the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) on Thursday.
Total export orders declined 12.8 percent from a year earlier to US$35.32 billion after a year-on-year increase of 0.9 percent in December 2019, which ended 13 consecutive months of decline, the figures showed.
On a month-on-month basis, export orders received in January also fell 19.4 percent from a month earlier and were down 2.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the figures.
Export orders received by the information and communications industry fell 17.0 percent from a year earlier to US$9.7 billion in January, hurt by a relatively high base of comparison and seasonal factors.
Export orders for information and communications products from Europe dropped by US$690 million, followed by US$510 million less from the United States, while orders from ASEAN countries declined by US$250 million, said Huang Yu-ling (黃于玲), head of the MOEA's statistics department.
Turning to the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on Taiwan's export orders, Huang said as the outbreak did not start spreading rapidly until February, the impact on January's orders was limited, accounting for about US$200 million-US$300 million in export value.
However, the outbreak's effects could be significant and might cause a fall of US$3 billion-US$3.5 billion in export orders in February, according to Huang.
The figures also showed that the percentage of export orders received by Taiwan-based companies but produced overseas stood at 48.8 percent in January, the lowest since March 2019, Huang noted.
The low overseas production was mainly because of seasonal factors and a reflection of restructuring global production networks, She said.
From a long-term perspective, more Taiwanese businesses with operations in China are expected to continue to move their operations back to Taiwan and increase investment in the country due to the COVID-19 outbreak which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province, Huang added.