International orders see 4-percent decline in April

By John Liu, The China Post

International orders received in April fell 4 percent compared with a year ago, putting an end to almost two years of consecutive growth the nation has seen. International order amounts were pegged at US$37.32 billion, which also marked a 2.3-percent fall from the previous month’s figure, according to a report released by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (�g�ٳ�, MOEA) yesterday. Looking at the nation’s export products, only information and communications technology (ICT) products �X Taiwan’s top product in terms of international order �X saw positive growth in orders. The amount registered at US$10.05 billion and grew 6.1 percent year-on-year. Electronics products, precision instruments, base metals and other non-tech products all took a hit in April. Lin Lee-jen (�L�R�s), director of the MOEA Statistics Department, attributed the overall decline to a high base period from last year (US$38.8 billion) and less-than-expected orders for non-tech products, which make up nearly half of all foreign orders. Orders for non-tech products dropped on the back of low oil prices, which have plummeted about 40 percent from a year ago, Lin said. While products’ prices declined, the number of units ordered stayed level actually, according to firms surveyed by the MOEA. Orders for Technology Products Orders for ICT products rose in the midst of growing demand for name-brand mobile devices. This contributed to more orders for parts assembly and related products in the supply chain. Orders for electronics products �X Taiwan’s No. 2 product in terms of international orders �X totaled US$9.67 billion in April, representing a 0.9-percent dip year-on-year. It was the first tumble for the product category in 21 months.

Lin attributed it to mainland China’s falling demand for mobile devices, which consequently affected related orders in the supply chain. The demand grew only 3 percent in the first quarter, which is a drastic decline from last year’s 37 percent in the same period, Lin noted. Another reason for the electronics sector’s decline is Japan’s declining orders for plasma TVs. The April’s orders marked the first negative growth in 11 months, the MOEA said. Orders for precision instruments plunged 13.6 percent to US$2.37 billion largely due to fierce global competition and weak panel demand, according to the MOEA’s report. Orders for Non-tech Products Orders for base metal products plunged 15.7 percent because of oversupply in the market while foreign businesses slashed prices to win market share. Plastic and chemical products declined 9.2 percent and 19.2 percent, respectively, largely because of falling international oil prices.

Machinery orders slumped 5.3 percent, which was the first drop in growth since February 2014. It represented lower orders placed from mainland China and Hong Kong. The MOEA’s Lin interpreted the downturn as a short-term phenomenon as sales tend to slump in the second quarter. Growth in sales are more like to occur in the second half of the year, the statistics chief forecast.