Taiwan’s exports down in May for third straight month: MOF (update)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s exports in May fell for the third consecutive month amid lower demand from overseas economies throttled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) reported on Monday.

Exports in May fell 2 percent year-on-year to US$27 billion, while imports were down 3.5 percent from a year earlier to US$22.28 billion, leaving the country with a trade surplus of US$4.72 billion for the month, the ministry said.

Despite the three-month slump, Taiwan’s outbound shipments in the first five months of 2020 were up 1.5 percent year-on-year to US$130.91 billion.

Imports during the five-month period rose 1.4 percent to US$114.4 billion, leaving a trade surplus of US$16.51 billion — an increase of US$300 million from the previous year, ministry statistics showed.

Compared with neighboring countries, Taiwan performed quite well in the first five months of the year, according to Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜), head of the MOF’s Department of Statistics.

During the period, China’s exports slid 7.7 percent, while South Korea’s exports fell 11.2 percent, she said.

In May, eight of Taiwan’s 11 major export sectors registered decreases in outbound shipments, with many of them non-tech sectors, she said.

Mineral exports plunged 57.3 percent from a year earlier to US$520 million, while textile exports were down 35.1 percent year-on-year to about US$530 million, she said.

In contrast, electronics components exports hit a new monthly high in May, rising 13.2 percent from a year earlier to US$10.24 billion.

The gains came largely due to strong demand for 5G gadgets and high performance computing and artificial intelligence equipment, she said.

Also in May, exports of computers and audio-visual products rose 10.9 percent to US$3.95 billion, the third-highest level for May, Tsai said.

She attributed the growth to vigorous demand across the globe for high-tech devices due to a robust stay-at-home economy following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Total outbound shipments of the electronics components and audio-visual products in the first five months accounted for 51.3 percent of Taiwan’s total exports, the highest ever share of total exports for the two categories.

The ministry forecast that the outlook for the domestic economy in the second half of the year remains uncertain despite a boom in some sectors of the stay-at-home economy in the first half of the year.