Exports last month rose 9.7 percent year-on-year to US$27.79 billion, the strongest performance for February since records began, as demand for most products increased, although mineral and textile exports remained soft, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
The pace of the pickup is expected to accelerate this month by 15 to 20 percent to above US$30 billion after the Lunar New Year holiday disruptions of last month, the ministry said.
“The world appears poised for a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in light of improving trade flows,” Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) said, adding that the outlook for the global economy would brighten further as more people get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters
Technology firms have benefited from people in lockdown working and learning from home, leading to demand for flat panels, computers and smartphones, trends likely to continue after the pandemic has changed the way companies and people tackle business, shopping and other activities, Tsai said.
Shipments of electronic products increased 14.4 percent year-on-year to US$10.73 billion, with semiconductors registering a 15.3 percent increase to US$9.74 billion, the monthly report showed.
Exports of information and communication technology products advanced 7.3 percent, while exports of optical devices, mainly flat panels, soared 23.8 percent, it said.
Exports of raw materials such as chemicals, plastics and base metals posted growth rates of 2.7 to 18 percent year-on-year, the report said.
Exports of machinery equipment increased 10.7 percent, while those of transportation equipment surged 20 percent, it said.
Exports of minerals and textiles bucked the trend with declines of 44.4 percent and 6.4 percent year-on-year, as crude oil prices remained low, although they are showing signs of improvement.
Imports rose 5.7 percent to US$23.28 billion, giving the nation a trade surplus of US$4.51 billion, a 36.4 percent increase year-on-year, the report said.
Exports in the first two months of this year posted a robust 23.2 percent increase to US$62.06 billion, stronger than the 16.77 percent gain projected for this quarter by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting, and Statistics last month.
Major suppliers of semiconductors, ICs, notebook computers, flat panels and other critical components have said that they have more orders than they can fulfill.
Imports in the first two months of the year grew 17.7 percent to US$51.36 billion, translating to a trade surplus of US$10.7 billion, a 59 percent increase from the same period last year, ministry data showed.
Exports in the first half of this year would also benefit from a low comparison base last year when nations introduced lockdowns to rein in the pandemic, leading to diminished economic activity, the ministry said.
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