Taiwan’s exports declined in March from a year earlier due to sagging demand for its products amid a slow global economic recovery and a high base of comparison last year, though the government expects the launch of new technology products to give exports a boost in April.
Taiwan’s exports in March fell 3.2 percent from a year earlier to $26.34 billion, the Ministry of Finance said Monday. The decline is smaller than the median forecast for a 4.48 percent drop in a Dow Jones Newswires survey of nine economists. Exports in February rose 10.30 percent from a year earlier.
Imports in March declined 5.8 percent to $23.99 billion, compared with the median forecast in the poll for a 6.60 percent decline. Imports rose 1.30 percent in February.
“The recent easing euro-zone debt crisis, improved US job market, and launch of new tech products will boost Taiwan’s exports, but growth will be limited by the slow global economic recovery,” said Lin Lee-jen, director of the ministry’s statistics department, adding it would be “difficult” to see strong on-year growth due to a high base effect.
Standard Chartered economist Tony Phoo said “the worst is largely over” and the island’s exports might experience a rebound, albeit a slow and mild one, as the US job market continues to struggle to recover.
“As long as the export of electronic products keep up the momentum, exports have a chance of swinging back to the positive zone next month,” he said.
However, Mega Securities economist Lucas Lee said Taiwan’s exports could drop further in the next two months as the latest economic data from US and China show both economies are growing more slowly than anticipated.
“Taiwan’s manufacturers are likely to face strong headwinds as we enter into the low season,” he added.
Exports to the US in March fell 8.0 percent from a year earlier, after February’s 0.9 percent decline. Exports to China, Taiwan’s biggest trade partner, declined 7.1 percent, compared with February’s 3.8 percent rise, while those to Europe decreased 11.6 percent, compared with the 5.1 percent rise a month earlier.
In March, exports of information and communications products, including the popular iPhone and iPad, dropped 6.9 percent from a year earlier, a smaller fall compared with February’s 14.10 percent slide.
Taiwan had a trade surplus of $2.36 billion in March, the ministry said, wider than the economists’ expectations of $2.14 billion and but narrower than February’s surplus of $2.83 billion.-By Jenny W. Hsu