September foreign trade up 10.4 percent in Taiwan

Growing demand for display panels is a major factor behind Taiwan’s healthy September export numbers.
Taiwan’s foreign trade hit US$50.26 billion for September on the back of fast-growing emerging markets in Asia, according to the Ministry of Finance Oct. 8.

The latest MOF statistics show Taiwan’s exports climbed 10.4 percent year on year to US$27.17 billion, while imports inched up 1.3 percent to US$23.09 billion. Net trade surplus surged 125.4 percent to US$4.08 billion.

Yeh Maan-tzwu, director-general of the MOF Department of Statistics, said exports also jumped 10 percent from August, the best performance in 14 months that ended a half-year decline.

“This encouraging result is largely due to robust demand for Taiwan’s display panels, electronics and petroleum products, all of which registered double-digit growth for the period.”

Yeh said standout performers electronics and petroleum products advanced 10.5 percent and 140 percent, respectively, to all-time highs of US$7.75 billion and US$2.38 billion.

Mainland China, including Hong Kong, continues to be the top destination for Taiwan’s exports at 39.9 percent, up 6 percent to US$10.84 billion.

“Taiwan’s six major trading partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations came in second at 20 percent, with shipments rising 41.4 percent to a record high of US$5.42 billion,” Yeh said, adding that they were followed by the U.S. at 10.7 percent, or US$2.9 billion.

Exports to Japan soared 27.9 percent to a best-ever US$1.86 billion, while shipments to Europe showed strain, dropping 10.5 percent to US$2.27 billion.

For the first nine months, Taiwan’s exports decreased 3.9 percent from the year before to US$223.6 billion, with imports also down 5 percent to US$204 billion. Accumulated trade surplus increased 9 percent to US$19.56 billion.

Imports of capital equipment and raw materials, which comprise over 90 percent of the total, remained relatively stable, with strong growth in consumer products such as compact cars and handsets helping keep the monthly figure on track.

With the year-end shopping season just around the corner, Yeh expects shipments to pick up steam, but warns that conditions in Europe and the U.S. remain unclear.

According to estimates by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, Taiwan’s exports will increase 4.45 percent in the fourth quarter, bringing the annual change to a decline of 1.72 percent.

Meg Chang