February exports fall, ending 16-month rising streak

Taipei, Taiwan's exports in February declined from a year earlier, ending 16 straight months of year-on-year growth, mainly because fewer working days drove down sales as the Lunar New Year holiday fell in the month, according to data released Wednesday by the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

MOF statistics show exports totaled US$22.37 billion in February, down 1.2 percent from a year earlier, after a 15.3 percent year-on-year increase in January.

The ministry attributed the year-on-year drop in February exports to three fewer working days compared with the same month last year when the Lunar New Year holiday fell in January.

February exports fell 18.3 percent month-to-month, according to the data.

According to the data, Taiwan's imports for February were worth US$19.46 billion, up 0.9 percent from a year earlier but down 22.1 percent from a month earlier, leaving a trade surplus of US$2.92 billion, down US$440 million year-on-year.

For January and February, exports totaled US$49.75 billion, up 7.3 percent from a year earlier, a record high.

In contrast, imports reached US$44.42 billion, up 12.4 percent from the previous year, representing a trade surplus of US$5.34 billion, down US$1.53 billion year-on-year, according to the MOF.

However, the ministry expressed optimism about future export performance given that the International Monetary Fund has revised its global growth forecast upwards by 0.2 percentage points for 2018 and 2019, from 3.7 percent to 3.9 percent, predicting that global growth will accelerate to the fastest pace in seven years as U.S. tax cuts encourage businesses to invest.

The ministry said that many factors, such as the continuing development of automobile electronics, the Internet of Things, high-efficiency computing technology and biometric industries, as well as the rise of virtual currencies, are expected to boost Taiwan's exports in the near future, and somewhat offset the lower-than-expected shipments of smartphones.

It is normal for Taiwan to post annual single-digit growth in exports this year due to a relatively high comparison base last year, according to the ministry.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel