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May 28, 2017

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Banks remain optimistic concerning growth

TAIPEI--Taiwan's economic outlook remained positive despite lower-than-expected export growth in May, both Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ) and Standard Chartered Bank said Tuesday.

"Taiwan's May trade data may have suffered from the distortions caused by fewer working days due to the different timing of holidays," ANZ said in a statement.

"We remain positive on the external outlook facing Taiwanese manufacturers," it said.

Taiwan's exports in May grew 1.4 percent year-on-year, below market expectations of 4.5 percent and lower than the 6.2-percent export growth posted in April.

Imports contracted by 2.3 percent year-on-year in May, much weaker than market expectations of 10.2 percent growth.

ANZ said the decline may have reflected weakening investment sentiment among Taiwanese manufacturers as the uncertainty caused by opposition to trade pacts with China starts to bite.

Standard Chartered agreed, expressing optimism over Taiwan's gross domestic product growth in the second quarter.

Taiwan's exports to major overseas markets posted year-on-year gains in May, with exports to China and Hong Kong, Europe and the United States rising 6.4 percent, 5.8 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Exports to both the U.S. and Europe have registered growth for five consecutive months, suggesting that Taiwanese producers are benefiting from demand recovery in key western markets, said Tony Phoo, an economist with Standard Chartered Bank in Taiwan.

Despite May being a traditionally slow season for high-tech sales, exports of technology goods, such as electronic components and information and communications and opto-electronic products, rose 4.6 percent in May from a year earlier, the category's fourth consecutive month of growth.

The upward trend indicated that Taiwan's high-tech producers are seeing stronger revenue amid the global launch of new tech gadgets, such as wearable technology, phablets and other smart mobile devices, Phoo said.

The economist cautioned, however, that imports declined 2.3 percent year-on year in May, the first drop over the past four months. "It could pose some concern if the downward trend continues," he said.

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