Taiwan: Merchandise exports gain steam in February
Merchandise exports soared 34.8% year-on-year in February (January: +16.7% year-on-year). February’s figure marked the largest expansion since July 2021, and massively overshot analysts’ expectations. Looking at subsectors, electronics shipments were the key driver. That said, the figure was likely boosted to an extent by the timing of the Lunar New Year holidays, which fell partly in January this year (last year the festivities fell completely in February). Meanwhile, merchandise imports shot up 35.3% over the same month last year in February (January: +24.5% yoy).
As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved from the previous month, recording a USD 5.8 billion surplus in February (January 2022: USD 4.9 billion surplus; February 2021: USD 4.5 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend pointed up, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 65.1 billion surplus in February, compared to the USD 63.7 billion surplus in January. Export orders—which typically lead actual exports by two to three months—jumped 11.7% in January, the latest month for which data is available, suggesting fairly 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. However, the Ukraine war poses a risk to external demand and supply chains—particularly if the conflict persists over time and widens in scope.