Taiwan export value soars 22% YoY in February 2017

Taiwan reports export value surged to US$33.75 billion

Benjamin Franklin, one of the world's largest container ships capable of carrying 18,000 TEU steering into a Kaohsiung Bay in Taiwan. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwan’s export value soared 22 percent year-on-year (YoY) in February 2017 to US$33.75 billion, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) latest figures.

Despite a slight month-on-month decline of 6.2 percent, and monthly nominal export value decline of 22.2 percent, the figures were better than the ministry’s forecast last month, said Director of Department of Statistics Lee-jen Lin (林麗貞).

The end of the Lunar New Year holidays and return of normal work days was cited as the main reason for the rebounding export demand.

The greatest monthly export increase was seen in the precision equipment industry, soaring 55.1 percent YoY or up 3.6 percent month-on-month to US$2.09 billion, largely driven by rising demands for large TV panel orders from China and automated machinery.

Rising global oil prices pushed up demand for plastic and petrochemical orders in Taiwan for the second consecutive month, with the market sector up 38.8 percent YoY or an incremental 3.0 percent increase MoM to US$1.66 billion.

"Oil prices rebounded over the lowest point of below US$30 per barrel last year, which contributed to the continual uptick in demand," said Lin. Crude oil prices have inched back above to US$48.8 per barrel as of March 20, 2017.

Aside from these two market sectors, other industries reported widespread monthly declines.

Increased global steel prices supported an increase of 38.8 percent YoY in base metal exports, which dropped 0.5 percent MoM last month to US$1.94 billion.

The chemicals industry reported the steepest decline of 9.5 percent MoM last month to US$1.57 billion, but was up 14.3 percent YoY, while the internet and communications technology (ICT) industry had the second largest decline at 7.9 percent MoM to US$9.71 billion.

In spite of the slight monthly setback, the ICT industry reported a 23.9 percent YoY increase with strong export demand valued at US$800 million from the U.S., Europe with US$540 million and China plus Hong Kong’s US$350 million.

The third industry to see a large dip in monthly export value was the electronic industry’s 7.7 percent MoM drop to US$8.73 billion, although the overall export value was up 15.4 percent YoY.

In terms of impact from currency exchange, the appreciation of the New Taiwan Dollar by 8.09 percent in February 2017 places the country at a slight disadvantage compared to neighboring South Korea, where the Won appreciation was lower at 6.69 percent, explained Lin.

Regionally, export demand remained strongest from China, up 0.1 percent MoM or 40.5 percent YoY. Electronic products orders placed experienced the greatest growth of 27.9 percent to US$660 million, followed by precision equipment’s 74.4 percent to US$600 million, and ICT products with 20.5 percent.

According to Lin, growing demand for smartphone products in China was most evident followed by DRAM, and other semiconductor chips.

Export demand in the U.S. was up 21.1 percent YoY, but dropped 9.8 percent MoM to US$9.15 billion. ICT products topped the list of exports to U.S. increasing 31.2 percent to US$800 million, electronic products also were up 11.9 percent to US$280 million.

Europe reported steepest MoM decline of 12.2 percent, which was down to US$6.67 billion, but up 12.9 percent YoY, with ICT orders surging 20.4 percent last month to US$540 million. Exports to Japan also reportedly dropped 5.9 percent MoM, but was up 23.6 percent YoY to US$1.85 billion.

Taiwan exports to ASEAN markets continued to wane in the first two months of 2017, slipping 0.4 percent MoM but rising 4.0 percent YoY to US$3.65 billion, which was attributed to orders being placed with Taiwan company subsidiaries in Southeast Asian states, said Lin.

Lin forecast a positive outlook for Taiwan’s March exports, which will increase 11 to 14 percent MoM or 2 to 5 percent YoY to at least US$37.5 billion.