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Taiwan's exports up for 3rd straight month in January

02/07/2024 08:16 PM
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CNA file photo
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Taipei, Feb. 7 (CNA) Taiwan on Wednesday reported a third straight month of year-on-year export growth in January, when outbound sales rose more than 18 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

With the electronic components industry returning to an uptrend in export growth, Taiwan's exports rose 18.1 percent from a year earlier to US$37.19 billion in January, after a 11.8 percent year-on-year increase in December, data compiled by the MOF showed.

In addition, a relatively low comparison base over the same period of last year, when working days were reduced by the Lunar New Year holiday, was also cited by the MOF as a reason for the spike in exports seen last month.

In January, Taiwan's imports rose 19.0 percent from a year earlier to US$34.70 billion, with a trade surplus of US$2.49 billion, up 6.5 percent from a year earlier, the ministry added.

In January, exports from the electronic components industry, the backbone of the country's outbound sales, rose 7.5 percent from a year earlier to US$13.67 billion, in the wake of solid demand for emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence applications, the MOF said. In December, exports from the industry fell 1.2 percent from a year earlier.

At a news conference, Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜), director-general of the ministry's Department of Statistics, said the January increase in electronic component exports stopped a 14-month falling streak.

Citing Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, Tsai said inventory adjustments in the global semiconductor industry are coming to an end, with the momentum in electronic component exports expected to continue.

In the electronic components industry, which accounted for 36.8 percent of Taiwan's total exports in January, semiconductor suppliers posted US$12.63 billion in outbound sales, the MOF added.

The information communications and video-audio industry generated US$9.42 billion in exports in January, soaring 100.6 percent from a year earlier as enthusiasm toward AI pushed up shipments of gadgets such as computers and peripherals as well as storage devices, the ministry said.

Bucking the upturn, the optoelectronics and precision equipment industry saw exports fall 10.6 percent from a year earlier to US$951 million, the data showed.

Outside the tech sector, old economy industries largely reported a year-on-year increase in exports in January due to a rebound in demand, the data indicated.

Outbound sales generated by the base metal, machinery, and plastics/rubber industries rose 1.3 percent, 4.0 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively, from a year earlier to US$2.45 billion, US$1.98 billion and US$1.63 billion in January, the MOF said.

Exports posted by the chemical and electric machinery industries also rose 4.2 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively, from a year earlier to US$1.59 billion and US$1.09 billion in January, the MOF added.

However, the mineral, transportation equipment and textile industries suffered year-on-year declines of 0.5 percent, 26.6 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, to US$1.28 billion, US$919 million and US$546 million in exports in January, according to the ministry.

Tsai said although most old economy industries posted a year-on-year increase in exports in January, the growth was small, indicating their momentum failed to pick up significantly.

In January, China and Hong Kong remained the largest buyer of Taiwan-made goods after purchasing US$12.24 billion in merchandise, up 17.2 percent from a year earlier, reversing a 6.4 percent year-on-year decline in December.

The MOF said demand for electronic components and information communications and video/audio products from China and Hong Kong grew, while an increase in demand for plastics/rubber, machinery and base metal items also pushed up sales to China and Hong Kong.

The United States came in second after buying about US$8.40 billion in goods from Taiwan, surging 56.6 percent from a year earlier, largely on the back of increased demand for electronic communication and video/audio devices, the ministry said.

January exports to the U.S. market were the second highest ever monthly level, after December 2023, when the amount stood at US$8.49 billion, the MOF said.

Exports to the ASEAN bloc hit US$6.81 billion, up 36.6 percent, also boosted by strong demand for tech gadgets, ahead of Europe (US$3.18 billion, down 11.8 percent) and Japan (US$2.02 billion, down 26.6 percent), the ministry said.

As the Lunar New Year holiday this year falls in February there will be fewer working days in the month, which will impact exports, the MOF said.

As a result, exports are estimated to range between US$29.5 billion and US$30.7 billion in February, down 1-5 percent from a year earlier, according to the MOF.

However, exports during the period of January-February are expected to rise 6.6-8.6 percent from a year earlier, and outbound sales are expected to rise 8.6 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, Tsai said, adding Taiwan's exports are set to return to a growth pattern this year.(By Chang Ai and Frances Huang)

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