Taiwan: Exports and imports slump in January, trade surplus widens
Merchandise exports slumped 7.6% in annual terms in January, contrasting December’s 4.0% expansion. The reading reflected a drop in ICT products, machinery and base metal outflows, although a steady increase in electronics parts exports tempered the decline. Exports to the U.S. inched up in the first month of the year—following a marked increase over the course of 2019—likely linked to continued trade diversion from China. Additionally, export orders—which typically lead actual exports by two to three months—increased 0.9% in December, the latest month for which data is available, suggesting healthier trade momentum going forward.
Meanwhile, merchandise imports nosedived 17.7% year-on-year in January, reversing the 13.9% increase recorded in December. The decline was broad-based, with a fall in all sub-sectors except for machinery imports, which posted a modest increase.
As such, the trade surplus widened to USD 3.5 billion in January, up significantly from the USD 0.9 billion figure observed in January 2019, and higher than the USD 2.5 billion surplus recorded in the previous month. The 12-month trailing trade surplus increased to USD 46.1 billion in January from USD 43.5 billion in December.