Export orders grew year-on-year for the 11th consecutive month last month, rising 49.3 percent to US$52.72 billion on the back of a low comparison base last year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
The increase was influenced by the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday, which was in January last year, but February this year, Department of Statistics Director Huang Yu-ling (黃于玲) said.
Last month’s figure fell 12.9 percent month-on-month due to seasonal factors, the ministry said.
Orders for information and communications technology (ICT) products were US$15.09 billion, up 55.6 percent year-on-year, it said.
The increase reflected the continued effect of “a certain delayed smartphone product by an international company,” along with continued demand for ICT products related to work-from-home needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Huang said.
Orders for electronic products were US$16.93 billion, up 64.3 percent year-on-year, as demand for 5G and high-performance computing, automotive electronics and gaming machines remained robust, she said.
Optical component orders were US$2.44 billion, up 58.1 percent from a year earlier, as “prices rose along with demand,” she said.
Turning to the traditional sector, base metal orders rose 21.5 percent to US$2.42 billion on the back of increased demand for machinery, automotive and home appliances, Huang said.
Orders for mechanical products increased 42.9 percent to US$2.16 billion, due to “COVID-19 demand for DIY-related merchandise,” she said.
Orders for plastics products expanded 43.3 percent to US$2.33 billion on increased demand, while orders for chemical products rose 13.4 percent to US$1.73 billion on “increased demand for petrochemical products and vigorous restocking of depleted inventory,” despite lower oil prices compared with last year, Huang said.
Looking forward, Huang said she is “cautiously optimistic” about a global economic recovery as vaccines for COVID-19 roll out, driving growth in orders.
“The slow season might not be so slow this year,” Huang said. “As more countries increase vaccination efforts, we can look forward to a global economic recovery.”
The steady increase of international oil and steel prices, and an “eagerness to replenish depleted inventory” would help drive orders for traditional product categories, she said.
“There is some talk that the recovery will weaken demand for work-from-home related ICT products, but we do not necessarily think that is going to be the case, as companies are aware of a long-term need to digitize,” Huang said.
Export orders this month are expected to total US$41.0 billion to US$42.5 billion, down 19.4 to 22.2 percent month-on-month, but up 43 to 48.2 percent year-on-year, the ministry said.
“Export orders for February last year were relatively depressed, because that was the month that the COVID-19 crisis started to affect global supply chains,” Huang said.
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