Taiwan December exports growth slower than forecast, outlook positive

TSMC's worth reached some US$410 billion (RM1.742 trillion) today morning to surpass US firms Johnson & Johnson and Visa to rank 10th in the world, according to Bloomberg News. — Reuters pic. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TAIPEI, Jan 7, 2021, Reuters. Taiwan’s exports rose for an 18th straight month in December, though at a slightly lower rate than forecasts, boosted by continued strong tech demand and amid a global shortage of computer chips, Reuters reported.

Exports in December were the second highest monthly figure on record, rising 23.4% from a year earlier to $40.72 billion, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday.

A Reuters poll of analysts had forecast a rise of 26.7% for the month, compared with a 30.2% increase in November. read more

Exports rose 29.4% in 2021 to a record high, supported by global demand for the island’s tech products from semiconductors to telecommunications equipment.

The ministry attributed the December growth to strong demand for tech exports such as electronic components as well as chips, a shortage of which has crippled car plants globally and is affecting consumer electronics.

Exports of electronics components rose 27.5% in December to reach $3.51 billion, with semiconductor exports growing 29.2% and telecommunication products gaining 22.4% from a year earlier.

Firms such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) are major suppliers to Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and other global tech giants, as well as providers of chips for auto companies and lower-end consumer electronics.

The finance ministry warned of risks ahead, including uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic as well as persistent supply chain bottlenecks.

But it said the strong growth should continue in the first quarter, thanks to sustained global demand for tech products along with a steady improvement in global economic fundamentals.

December exports to China, Taiwan’s largest trading partner, grew an annual 16.2% to $17.09 billion, while exports to the United States jumped 29%.

Taiwan’s imports leapt 28.1%, though below economists’ expectations of a 30.6% rise, after an increase of 33.8% in November.

Taiwan could see January exports increase in the range of 14% to 17% from a year earlier, the ministry said.

Reporting by Sarah Wu and Jeanny Kao; Writing by Yimou Lee; Editing by Robert Birsel

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