Taiwan's January exports plunged by 21.2 percent year-on-year to US$31.51 billion, while imports shrank by 16.6 percent from a year earlier to US$29.17 billion, leaving the country with a trade surplus of US$2.34 billion, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) reported on Tuesday.
In a statement, the MOF attributed the decrease in both outbound and inbound shipments mainly to fewer work days in January because of the longer Lunar New Year holiday this year which lasted from Jan. 20 to Jan. 29 and slow season effects.
Almost all major export sectors posted double-digit declines in exports on an annual basis last month, the MOF said.
Electronics component exports, the bulk of Taiwan's outbound shipments, reached US$12.72 billion, down by 20.1 percent from January 2022, while exports of base metals and metal products slid by 28.8 percent to US$2.42 billion, according to MOF statistics.
The plastics and rubber sector saw its exports decline by 37.6 percent to US$1.51 billion, while machinery exports dipped by 25 percent to US$1.9 billion.
At the same time, chemical exports contracted by 26.5 percent to US$1.53 billion, while outbound shipments of information/computing/technology, and auditory and visual devices fell by 10.4 percent to US$4.7 billion, MOF statistics showed.
China/Hong Kong remained Taiwan's leading overseas market, absorbing 33.1 percent of Taiwan's exports in January, but the export figure of US$10.44 billion marked a 33.5 percent fall compared with the same month in 2022.
The United States came in second, taking 17 percent of Taiwan's exports last month, ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with 15.8 percent and Europe with 11.5 percent.
In terms of inbound shipments, China/Hong Kong; ASEAN, Europe, Japan, and the United States were the top suppliers, but all posted a fall in exports to Taiwan last month ranging from between 11.5 percent and 26.9 percent, MOF figures indicated.
Despite demand for high-performance computing, automobile chips, and new applications, the global economic momentum remains weak due to geopolitical and post-COVID uncertainties, the ministry said, adding that it is too early to say whether Taiwan's exports could rebound in the foreseeable short term.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel