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Taiwan Feb exports fall again; H1 outlook poor

Taiwan’s exports in February fell annually for a sixth straight month to their lowest level in two years due to a deteriorating global economy, with the outlook remaining dim for at least the first half of the year.

Exports last month were down 17.1 per cent by value from a year earlier at US$31.05 billion, the lowest level in nearly 24 months, the Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday.

The data improved from a 21.2 per cent annual drop seen in January, but lagged a Reuters poll forecast for a 14 per cent contraction.

“Due to weak terminal demand, the momentum of global economic growth has weakened,” the ministry said, though it added that now is traditionally the low season for exports.

Taiwan’s total shipments of electronics components in February fell 17.8 per cent from a year before to US$12.94 billion, with semiconductor exports down 17.3 per cent.

Firms such as TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, are major suppliers to Apple and other global tech giants, as well as providers of chips for auto companies and lower-end consumer goods.

Smaller rival United Microelectronics reported on Monday that its February sales had sunk 18.6 per cent from a year before.

At US$11.0 billion in February, Taiwan’s exports to China, the island’s largest trading partner, were down 30.2 per cent, after showing a 33.5 per cent annual drop in the previous month.

The finance ministry said global inflation and ongoing tightening of monetary policy in major economies would continue to weigh on external demand, coupled with other risks such as the war in Ukraine and China-US trade tensions.

“The international economic outlook is conservative, and our exports will still be under considerable pressure in the first half of the year,” it said, predicting that March exports could be 16 per cent to 19.5 per cent lower than a year earlier.

February’s exports to the United States slipped 13.7 per cent, after falling an annual 14.5 per cent in the prior month.

Taiwan’s February imports, often seen as a leading indicator of re-exports of finished products, fell 9.4 per cent to US$28.7 billion, also a nearly 24-month low. That compared with economists’ forecast of a 9.8 per cent fall and a 16.6 per cent decline in January. CNA

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