December export orders fall by over 23% year-on-year

Taiwan's export orders dropped for a fourth straight month in December, tumbling by more than 23 percent year-on-year, due mainly to sluggish demand in consumer markets, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said Tuesday.

Export orders received by Taiwanese companies in December totaled US$52.17 billion, down by 23.2 percent from a year earlier, marking the fourth consecutive monthly decline but still the third highest for the month in history, according to data compiled by the MOEA.

The steep fall was mainly because of the slowdown in global economic growth caused by inflation and interest rate hikes dampening end-user demand, despite continued demand for emerging tech, said Huang Yu-ling (???), head of the MOEA's Department of Statistics, at a press conference.

The drop was also due to inventory adjustments by clients and a relatively high base of comparison for December 2021, Huang added.

However, on a month-on-month basis, export orders increased by 4.1 percent and after seasonal adjustments, the figure also rose by 3.7 percent mainly owing to the effects of China's relaxation of its zero-COVID policy and delayed orders, according to the MOEA.

In November, export orders fell by a deeper-than-expected 23.4 percent annually to US$50.14 billion, according to the MOEA.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, export orders posted an 18.1 percent year-on-year decline to US$157.71 billion.

For the whole of 2022, export orders dropped by 1.1 percent from a year earlier to US$666.79 billion, ending a two-year streak of annual growth since 2010, but still the second highest in history, the MOEA data indicated.

In the technology industry, orders for information and communications technology products as well as electronics devices in December fell by 24.1 percent and 20.9 percent year-on-year, respectively, due to a high comparison basis in the same month a year earlier.

The optoelectronics sector saw export orders for December fall by 40.9 percent from a year earlier, according to the data.

In addition, major old economy industries posted double-digit declines in the month due to weakening demand.

Export orders received by the plastics/rubber industry in December fell by 34.1 percent from a year earlier, while the base metals industry saw export orders fall by 33.9 percent year-on-year.

The chemical industry also posted a 29.4-percent year-on-year decline in December, while export orders in the machinery industry dropped by 19.2 percent, according to the data.

The MOEA data also showed that 51.8 percent of Taiwan's export orders in December were produced overseas, a drop of 2.7 percentage points year-on-year.

Looking ahead, anticipated pent-up demand for emerging tech such as automotive electronics, high-performance computing devices, and cloud data centers are expected to help bolster the country's export orders, according to the ministry.

However, uncertainty created by global inflation, interest rate hikes, the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, and the China-U.S. tech war could hurt Taiwan's export orders, according to the ministry.

According to Huang's forecast, Taiwan's export orders in January will fall by 32.1 percent-35.5 percent from a year earlier to US$38 billion-US$40 billion, marking the fifth consecutive monthly drop.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel