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Taiwan December tech exports growth slower than forecast, outlook positive

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

Exports in December were the second highest monthly figure on record, rising 23.4% from a year earlier to US$40.72 billion (about RM171.39 billion), the country’s Ministry of Finance said on Friday (Jan 7).

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

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 US$3.51 billion, with semiconductor exports growing 29.2% and telecommunications products gaining 22.4% from a year earlier.

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

Nonetheless, the 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 US$17.09 billion, while exports to the US 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.

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