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Taiwan's exports grow to US$26.6 billion in April: MOF

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Thanks to a booming semiconductor industry and higher global demand, exports in April grew 6.2 percent to US$26.6 billion, according to a report released by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) yesterday.

Taiwan's exports totaled US$99.92 billion in the first four months of 2014, also up 2.3 percent from the same period last year, indicating improvement in Taiwan's trade performance, the MOF said.

Among exported product categories, electronics products totaled US$8.16 billion, up 14.7 percent year-on-year and representing the best single-month performance in history. Electronics products also favored the best compared with other product categories in the period between January and April.

Exports of non-electronics products such as chemical products and plastic products also grew 11.9 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively.

Exports of optical equipment, mineral products, information and communication technology (ICT) products, however, dropped 13.4 percent, 3.4 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively.

Exports to Major Markets

Except for Japan, exports to major markets around the globe exhibited growth. Exports to mainland China, ASEAN-6 countries, the U.S. and Europe grew 5 percent, 8.5 percent, 6.9 percent and 13.1 percent, respectively.

Declining demand in electronics products contributed to the drop in exports in Japan. Since the country placed a much higher order the month before, the drop in April only reflected inventory adjustment and therefore was not a major concern, the MOF said.

April marked the second consecutive month in which Europe saw double digit growth. Exports to the American market in April totaled US$3.03 billion, which was a record high in 30 months. The previous record was US$3.22 billion, made in October, 2011.

The MOF pointed out that compared with Asian markets, western markets exhibited higher momentum between January and April. Exports to Asian markets grew 1.7 percent during this period, while exports to the U.S. and European markets grew 7.8 percent and 7.3 percent respectively.

Upbeat about the Future

Looking into the future, MOF Statistics Department Director Yeh Maan-tzwu (葉滿足) expects electronics products and machinery to grow in the second quarter, but expressed concerns about the optical equipment sector's performance.

International name brands are expected to roll out new handheld devices in the coming months, which will drive electronics product makers to expand their high-end manufacturing facilities, the MOF said. Optical equipment makers, however, are facing challenges including declining demand from emerging markets, increasing competition from international players and manufacturers in mainland China beefing up their local supply chain.

Imports Performance

As a result of higher investment and consumption, imports in April grew 5.8 percent to US$24.06 billion. Imports of capital equipment and consumer products grew 18.9 percent and 16.5 percent respectively. The two categories also grew 6.4 percent and 7 percent respectively in the first four months of 2014.

Imports from mainland China, Japan, ASEAN-6 countries, the U.S. and Europe grew 13.4 percent, 6.9 percent, 12.1 percent, 30.3 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively, in April. The figure averaged out around 5 percent, however, across countries between January and April.

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