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Taiwan Trade Balance May 2020

Taiwan: Exports and imports fall in May, pushing up trade surplus to 9-month high

Merchandise exports contracted 2.0% in annual terms in May, following April’s 1.3% fall. The slightly sharper overall drop was driven by a continued contraction in exports of base metals, plastics and machinery, partially offset by higher outflows of electronic products. Meanwhile, export orders—which typically lead actual exports by two to three months—increased 2.3% in April, the latest month for which data is available, suggesting healthy trade momentum going forward.

Meanwhile, merchandise imports fell 3.5% year-on-year in May, contrasting the 0.5% uptick recorded in April. The decline was driven by plummeting imports of petroleum and other mineral products, while a strong increase in electronic product imports—suggesting healthy domestic demand dynamics—softened the overall fall somewhat.

As a result, the trade surplus rose to a 9-month high of USD 4.7 billion in May, more than doubling the USD 2.3 billion figure observed in April, and marginally above the USD 4.5 billion surplus recorded in May 2019. The 12-month trailing trade surplus inched up to USD 43.8 billion in May from USD 43.5 billion in April.

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