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Taiwan's April export orders beat estimate on AI boom

05/20/2024 08:27 PM
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CNA file photo
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Taipei, May 20 (CNA) Riding the wave of booming emerging technologies, in particular artificial intelligence development, Taiwan's export orders for April rose more than 10 percent, beating an earlier Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) estimate, the ministry said Monday.

Data compiled by the MOEA showed the country's export orders hit US$47.10 billion, up 10.8 percent from a year earlier, compared with an earlier forecast ranging from US$43.0 billion to US$45.0 billion and rise of 1.2-5.9 percent from a year earlier.

The April figure marked the second consecutive monthly year-on-year increase after a 1.2 percent rise in March, the data indicated.

In addition, the April growth was the highest in almost two years, according to the MOEA.

In the first four months of this year, Taiwan's export orders totaled US$180.41 billion, up 1.0 percent from a year earlier.

Speaking with reporters, MOEA Department of Statistics Director Huang Yu-ling (黃于玲) said an increase in global demand for AI applications, high performance computing (HPC) devices and cloud-based gadgets continued to boost the export-oriented high tech sector in April.

In April, export orders received by the electronics industry soared 22.7 percent from a year earlier to US$17.10 billion as a boom in emerging technologies pushed up demand for electronic components such as pure play wafer foundry services and printed circuit boards, the MOEA said.

Orders received by the local electronics industry from buyers in the United States and China, including Hong Kong, rose US$1.58 billion and US$1.29 billion from a year earlier, respectively, the MOEA added.

In the information and communications industry, the MOEA said, export orders rose 8.4 percent from a year earlier to US$13.05 billion in April also on the back of the frenzy over AI and cloud-based applications, which boosted demand for servers and graphics cards.

Export orders received by the optoelectronics equipment industry also rose 13.5 percent from a year earlier to US$1.66 billion as demand for TV panels and camera lenses kept growing and TV screen prices remained high, the MOEA said.

In addition to the high-tech sector, major old economy industries also largely benefited from the moves by clients to rebuild their inventories, Huang said.

A rebound in product prices and a relatively low comparison base over the same period of last year also led to a rebound in export orders in the old economy sector in April, she added.

However, one month of data is insufficient to determine whether the old economy sector has come out of its long term weakness, Huang said.

For example, the base metal industry reported export orders rose 3.5 percent in April from a year earlier to US$2.23 billion, while export orders received by the plastics/rubber and chemical industries also rose 4.2 percent and 8.0 percent, respectively, from a year earlier to US$1.61 billion and US$1.54 billion.

Bucking the upturn, the machinery industry suffered a 3.4 percent year-on-year decline in export orders with a value of US$1.59 billion.

Huang said the decline largely reflected caution about the global economic recovery, which prompted manufacturers to scale back their investments for expansion.

The silver lining is that April export orders declined in the machinery industry moderating from a 13.9 percent drop in March, Huang added.

In April, the U.S. placed the highest level of orders with Taiwan valued at US$14.81 billion, up 11.8 percent from a year earlier, while China, including Hong Kong, came in second place with US$10.69 billion in orders, up 16.3 percent from a year earlier, the MOEA said.

The ASEAN bloc placed US$7.89 billion in export orders in April, up 22.5 percent from a year earlier, ahead of Europe (US$6.92 billion, down 0.2 percent) and Japan (US$2.33 billion, down 10.5 percent), the MOEA added.

Huang said growth momentum is expected to continue in May, when export orders are expected to range between US$46.5 billion and US$48.5 billion, up 1.8-6.2 percent from a year earlier, marking the third straight month of year-on-year growth.

However, Huang cautioned the global economic recovery remains plagued by uncertainties such as high interest rates, growing trade tensions between the U.S. and China and escalating geopolitical unease.

(By Liu Chien-ling and Frances Huang)

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