Taiwan: Merchandise exports gain steam in January
Merchandise exports jumped 36.8% in annual terms in January (December: +12.0% year-on-year), driven by surging shipments of electronics. January’s reading marked the strongest growth since July 2010. Meanwhile, merchandise imports shot up 29.9% over the same month last year in January (December: +0.9% yoy), marking the best result since February 2020. Soaring exports and imports were likely partly driven by a frontloading of orders ahead of February’s Chinese New Year celebrations, and a favorable base of comparison (given that the 2020 Chinese New Year was celebrated in January, resulting in fewer working days).
As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved from the previous month, recording a USD 6.2 billion surplus in January (December 2020: USD 5.8 billion surplus; January 2020: USD 3.4 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend pointed up, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 61.6 billion surplus in January, compared to the USD 58.8 billion surplus in December. Export orders—which typically lead actual exports by two to three months—rose 38.3% in December, the latest month for which data is available, suggesting strong trade momentum going forward.
Looking ahead, exports should be supported this year by strong demand for electronics—particularly semiconductors—although growth rates will likely ease markedly from January’s reading.