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November exports return to uptrend, rise 3.8% year-on-year

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CNA photo Dec. 4, 2023

Taipei, Dec. 8 (CNA) Taiwan's exports returned to growth in November, rising 3.8 percent from a year earlier, as solid demand for emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, offset the impact of a slower global economy, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said Friday.

Data compiled by the MOF showed the country's outbound sales stood at US$37.47 billion in November, up 3.8 percent from a year earlier after a year-on-year decline of 4.5 percent in October.

In addition to a boost from emerging applications, Taiwan's November export growth also came after a relatively low comparison base over the same period of last year, the MOF said.

Taiwan's imports fell 14.8 percent from a year earlier to US$27.67 billion in November with a trade surplus of US$9.80 billion, up 170.8 percent from a year earlier.

In the first 11 months of this year, the country's exports fell 11.5 percent from a year earlier to US$392.56 billion and imports dropped 18.7 percent year-on-year to US$323.10 billion, while the trade surplus rose 49.6 percent from a year earlier to US$69.46 billion, the ministry said.

At a hearing held by the Legislative Yuan on Monday, Finance Minister Chuang Tsui-yun (莊翠雲) said driven by strong demand for emerging applications, Taiwan's exports in 2023 are expected to top US$400 billion and hit the third highest level in the country's history, trailing only US$479.4 billion in 2022 and US$446.4 billion in 2021.

The rebound in November's outbound sales data echoed Chuang's prediction.

At a news conference, Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜), director-general of the MOF's Department of Statistics, said that the 3.8 percent year-on-year increase in exports was the country's best export performance in 16 months.

However, while exports improved, the pace remained slow and the strength of recovery was uneven in different industries, Tsai said.

In addition, the global economy remains haunted by high inflation and an aggressive central bank rate hike cycle, which prompted many foreign buyers to stay cautious, she said.

Exports generated by the electronic components industry, the backbone of Taiwan's outbound sales, fell 3.6 percent from a year earlier to US$14.60 billion in November, with the decline moderating from a 7.4 percent fall in October, the data showed.

It was the 13th consecutive month the electronic components industry recorded a year-on-year decline in exports.

In the electronic components industry, which accounted for 39.0 percent of Taiwan's total exports in November, semiconductor suppliers posted US$13.59 billion in exports, down 2.4 percent from a year earlier, after a 6.5 percent year-on-year fall in October, the data indicated.

The optoelectronics and precision device industry suffered a 25.9 percent year-on-year fall in exports totaling US$957 million in November, according to the MOF.

Bucking the downturn, the information and communication technology and video/audio industry saw exports soar 74.0 percent from a year earlier to US$9.37 billion in November, a new monthly high, with sales in computers and peripherals surging 110 percent to US$3.49 billion and sales in storage devices rising 23.6 percent to US$140 million, the MOF said.

The ministry added that old economy industries continued to feel the pinch from weakening global demand.

The base metals industry posted US$2.26 billion in exports in November, down 17.7 percent from a year earlier, while the plastics/rubber industry and the chemical industry saw exports fall 14.7 percent and 12.0 percent, respectively, from a year earlier to US$1.55 billion and US$1.41 billion, the MOF said.

The machinery industry and the minerals industry recorded a smaller year-on-year decline of 5.0 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively, with exports totaling US$2.03 billion and US$1.16 billion in November, the MOF added.

By country, China and Hong Kong remained the top buyers after purchasing US$12.71 billion worth of Taiwan-made goods, accounting for 33.9 percent of the total, compared with 37.2 percent in October, the MOF said.

Exports to China and Hong Kong fell 6.3 percent from a year earlier in November after a 3.6 percent year-on-year decline in October, according to the MOF data.

The United States bought US$7.82 billion worth of Taiwan's merchandise in November, up 33.1 percent from a year earlier on the back of strong demand for tech devices, the MOF said. It was the second consecutive month Taiwan's exports to the U.S. market have hit a new high, the MOF added.

Exports to the ASEAN bloc and Europe also received a boost from strong demand for Taiwan's tech gadgets in November, the MOF said. Sales to ASEAN countries and Europe totaled US$6.87 billion and US$3.04 billion, respectively, up 13.8 percent and 1.7 percent from a year earlier, the MOF data showed.

The data also indicated exports to Japan fell 11.4 percent from a year earlier to US$2.62 billion in November.

Looking ahead, Tsai said Taiwan's exporters are expected to continue to ride the wave of emerging applications and benefit from a low comparison base in December, when it is estimated outbound sales will range from US$37.2 billion to US$38.2 billion, up 4-7 percent from a year earlier, marking the second straight month of year-on-year growth.

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