Taiwan: Merchandise exports rise at a more moderate rate in December
Merchandise exports shot up 23.4% over the same month last year in December, following November’s 30.2% upturn. December’s outturn marked the slowest increase since February. Some moderation was always likely given the emergence of the Omicron variant and the ensuing tightening of restrictions abroad. That said, export growth remained solid nonetheless, underpinned by higher electronics sales. Meanwhile, merchandise imports climbed 28.1% over the same month last year in December (November: +33.8% yoy), marking the worst result since April 2021.
As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved from the previous month, recording a USD 5.8 billion surplus in December (November 2021: USD 5.7 billion surplus; December 2020: USD 5.7 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend improved, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 65.3 billion surplus in December, compared to the USD 65.2 billion surplus in November. Export orders—which typically lead actual exports by two to three months—jumped 13.4% in November, the latest month for which data is available, suggesting moderating yet still upbeat trade momentum going forward.
Looking forward, underlying export momentum should remain robust in 2022 on a healthy chip market, even as headline export growth moderates due to the tough base of comparison.