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Taiwan's exports in January decline 5.3 percent

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's exports totaled US$24.31 billion in January, a 7.9-percent decrease month-on-month and a 5.3-percent decrease year-on-year, according to a report released by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) yesterday.

Chinese New Year fell in January this year, and as a result there were fewer working days in the month, contributing to less output, the MOF said. In addition, January of last year had a relatively high base period. After taking seasonal adjustment into account, exports grew 0.1 percent year-on-year. As such, export performance so far this year can be considered “stable,” MOF Statistics Department Director Yeh Maan-tzwu (葉滿足) said.

Yeh said that she was confident the combined export figures in January and February would exceed those of last year and indicate positive growth.

January imports totaled US$21.34 billion, an 11.8-percent drop month-on-month and a 15.2-percent decrease year-on-year. January of last year had the highest single-month import number all year, recording 22-percent growth. With this high base period, imports saw a significant drop this year. After accounting for seasonal adjustments, imports in January dropped 3.6 percent year-on-year.

Exports to Major Markets

Except for the Greater China regions and ASEAN+6 countries, exports to developed countries — Japan, the U.S. and Europe — all saw growth in January.

Exports to mainland China and Hong Kong dropped 10.3 percent year-on-year. Exports to ASEASN+6 countries — Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia — declined 16.9 percent.

Exports to Japan, the U.S. and the eurozone climbed 4.8 percent, 4.6 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Since the Greater China area and ASEAN+6 countries comprise more than half of Taiwan's export markets, Yeh pointed out that Taiwan must take note of falling demand from these countries and rely less on western markets in the future.

Exports across Product Lines

Exports of optical instruments, mineral products and information and communication technology (ICT) products saw significant decline in January, falling 33 percent, 13.7 percent and 22.6 percent respectively. However, exports of electronics products and chemical products grew 8.5 percent and 2.4 percent respectively.

Taiwan's exports of optical instruments to Greater China dropped 36.8 percent in January, the fifth consecutive month to record double-digit decline. This reflected the fact that mainland China is increasing its panel manufacturing locally.

Exports of ICT products in January saw a significant decline as well. They fell 31.4 percent, 56.2 percent, 15.4 percent and 17 percent in ASEAN+6 countries, Japan, the U.S. and Europe, respectively. According to Yeh, this is the result of local companies rolling out fewer new products.

According to the International Monetary Fund's (MOF) latest forecast made in January, global trade will grow from 2.7 percent recorded last year to 4.5 percent this year. The MOF said that this growth momentum will boost Taiwan's exports. Nevertheless, as global competition intensifies and mainland China pushes for supply chain localization, Taiwan's exports may suffer, the MOF cautioned.

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