July trade figures register record declines, says MOF

Nick Land, The China Post

Trade statistics released yesterday by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) register record year-on-year falls in both exports and imports. Compared with last July, exports have shrunk by 28.4 percent and imports by 31.8 percent.

These are the largest declines recorded since the compilation of reliable trade statistics began in 1976, according to MOF chief statistician Hsu Kuo-chung. In July, both export and import totals slipped below US$10 billion for the first time since October 1999. Exports were down 13.7 percent over the last seven months compared to the previous year, to a total of US$72.72 for the period. The MOF said that last July’s high comparative base, international currency volatility, and typhoon damage had all contributed to the poor figures, with no sign of any immediate improvement in prospect. For 2001 as a whole, the MOF anticipates a decline of 13 percent in exports and 17 percent in imports from the previous year. Although the MOF expects the rate of decline to moderate from this month, the chance of positive trade growth during the remainder of the year is dismissed as effectively non-existent.

The 2001 trade surplus is expected to come in at US$12.8-13.0 billion.

The U.S. absorbed 23.6 percent of July’s Taiwan exports, worth US$2.29 billion, according to the MOF figures. Hong Kong accounted for a further 21.6 percent, worth US$2.1 billion, with Europe taking a 14 percent share, worth US$1.36 billion.

Among Taiwan’s July exports electronics goods fell the furthest, by a calamitous 43.5 percent from last year. Electrical machinery exports were down 30 percent, heavy industrial and chemical products down 29.9 percent, IT/telecoms products down 27.9 percent, textiles down 25.7 percent, and base metals down 23.1 percent.

Taiwan imports of agricultural and industrial materials declined by 29.4 percent, with capital equipment imports down 40.5 percent.