Taiwan: Merchandise exports growth remains upbeat in December
January 8, 2021
Merchandise exports jumped 12.0% annually in December, matching November’s result. Meanwhile, merchandise imports growth moderated to 0.9% over the same month last year in December (November: +10.0% yoy). Export orders—which typically lead actual exports by two to three months—soared 29.7% in November, the latest month for which data is available, suggesting robust trade momentum going forward.
As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved from the previous month, recording a USD 5.8 billion surplus in December (November 2020: USD 5.3 billion surplus; December 2019: USD 2.5 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend improved, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 58.8 billion surplus in December, compared to the USD 55.5 billion surplus in November.
Commenting on the result, Iris Pang, Greater China Chief Economist at ING, said:
“Stronger-than-expected export growth is a good sign that Taiwan's semiconductor sector enjoyed more sales before lockdowns tightened in export markets. […] But the picture is quite gloomy for imports. […] We believe the low import growth was a result of manufacturers being wary of building up inventories, especially for machinery, as export markets have been under lockdown and it is close to the Chinese New Year […] We don't think that the recent appreciation of the Taiwan dollar against the USD will change the appetite for imports if manufacturers continue to expect a stronger recovery of export demand.”