Taiwan: Merchandise exports jump at a softer rate in February
Merchandise exports shot up 9.7% on an annual basis in February thanks to higher electronics exports (January: +36.8% year-on-year). Meanwhile, merchandise imports jumped 5.7% on an annual basis in February (January: +29.9% yoy).
As a result, the merchandise trade balance deteriorated from the previous month, recording a USD 4.5 billion surplus in February (January 2021: USD 6.2 billion surplus; February 2020: USD 3.3 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend pointed up, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 63.4 billion surplus in February, compared to the USD 62.2 billion surplus in January. Export orders—which typically lead actual exports by two to three months— rose 49.3% in January, the latest month for which data is available, suggesting healthy trade momentum going forward.
On the outlook for the external sector, Jeong Woo Park, economist at Nomura, commented:
“The global reliance on Taiwan’s chip industry has become more pronounced since the Covid-19 outbreak, with companies and consumers shifting to a digitalised world. Supply constraints and fast rising demand are likely to prolong the boom in Taiwan’s tech exports. The supply shortage of chips will underpin a steady increase in chip prices, a trend that has started earlier than expected. With soaring demand for chips, the Taiwanese government is encouraging firms to increase their investment, which in turn will likely support labour markets.”