Q2 exports, imports record historic slumps

Michelle Hsu, The China Post

The exports and imports during the second quarter of this year declined by 17 percent and 22.8 percent, respectively, from the same period of last year, recording the largest quarterly one-year drops ever, according to the latest trade data published by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) today.

The exports and imports for the first two quarters amounted to US$63.02 billion and US$56.46 billion, respectively. The trade surplus for the six-month period amounted to US$6.56 billion, up US$3.89 billion from the same period of last year.

June is the third consecutive month in which both exports and imports have registered a decline, according to the official trade data for June. Exports and imports in June dropped 16.6 percent and 25.2 percent from the same month of last year, respectively. The former amounted to US$10.34 billion and the latter US$8.65 billion. Due to the even sharper decline in imports, the trade surplus for June climbed to US$1.69 billion, up US$850 million from one year earlier.

Average daily exports in June amounted to US$517 million, and daily imports to US$432 million, decreasing 14.5 percent and 23.3 percent, respectively, from one year ago.

According to the customs statistics, textile exports in June declined 12.3 percent to US$1.199 billion, electronics exports dropped 29.1 percent to US$1.848 billion, whilst telecommunications exports were down 16.5 percent to US$1.413 billion.

The decline in June’s exports, however, looked more moderate than those in May, which recorded historic monthly on-year declines of 22.6 percent and 29.6 percent, respectively. Exports in May totaled US$10.17 billion and imports US$8.95 billion, with a trade surplus of US$1.22 billion.

The trade surplus for June at US$1.69 billion is slightly higher than US$1.22 billion of May, although “indications for recovery still remain uncertain,” commented Hsu Kuo-chung, head of MOF’s statistics department. If the margin of decline is shrinking, the earliest rebound in exports may be seen in December, he added.

The New Taiwan dollar yesterday morning tumbled NT$0.175 to close NT$34.72 to one U.S. dollar, the lowest level since September 4, 1998. The falling local currency is generally regarded as a positive factor for boosting Taiwan’s exports. However, Hsu said, the likely effect of the fall is not clear, given that most of the Major Asian currencies declined during this year.

The hard landing of U.S. economy has imposed serious impact on the economies of Taiwan and other Asian countries, he added. Taiwan’s exports during the first six months declined 10.8 percent, while imports dropped 16.9 percent.

An economic report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), published in May, adjusted the annual economic growth forecast for the U.S. from the originally anticipated 5 percent to only 1.7 percent, that for the Europe Union from 3.4 percent to 2.6 percent, and that for Japan from 1.7 percent to 1 percent. “The slower growth of the global economy will definitely influence the exports of Taiwan,” said the MOF.