Taiwan could report over 10% fall in January export orders

In this Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017 photo, a cargo is loaded onto a freight vessel at the pier of a container terminal in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan is expected to report a more than 10 percent year-on-year fall in export orders for January amid lingering uncertainty in the global economy caused by the trade dispute between the United States and China.

Officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said that the trade issue has limited global demand for Taiwan’s information/communication devices and electronic components, and those unfavorable circumstances are expected to continue.

A fall in raw material prices, led by falling international crude oil prices, could further affect the value of Taiwan’s export orders in January, and a high base of comparison from January 2018 may also hurt order growth this January, the officials said.

The ministry is scheduled to report the January export order data on Friday.

In December, the total value of export orders placed with Taiwan-based companies fell 10.5 percent from a year earlier to US$43.38 billion, the steepest year-on-year decline since April 2016, when export orders declined 11.1 percent, MOEA data showed.

Export orders placed with Taiwanese information/communications device suppliers fell 13 percent from a year earlier in December, while export orders placed with electronics component vendors fell 8 percent from a year earlier, the MOEA’s data showed.

Gordon Sun (孫明德), director of the Economic Forecasting Center under the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, told CNA that Taiwan has felt the pinch from slow season effects in the traditional first quarter slow season.

Sun said foreign buyers built up their inventories in September and October last year, and they still need time to adjust inventory levels, meaning Taiwan’s export orders may not see a rebound until the second half of this year.

The economist said trade friction between Washington and Beijing has prevented buyers from placing orders, and as long as no deal is reached, they will remain cautious and struggle to regain confidence in the global economy.

After a round of negotiations held in Beijing last week, trade talks between the U.S. and China will continue in Washington later this week.

By Liao Yu-yang and Frances Huang