Taiwan: Exports continue to decelerate in May
June 7, 2017
In May, exports rose 8.4% year-on-year, totaling USD 25.5 billion, according to data from the Ministry of Finance (MOF). The expansion, albeit healthy, was below the 9.4% increase observed in April and marked the lowest rise in four months. Exports of electronic parts, the mainstay of Taiwanese shipments overseas, continued to decelerate in May, weighing on the overall result as demand from China continued to wane after having peaked in the weeks prior to this year’s Lunar New Year. This more than offset a strong acceleration in growth of plastic and rubber goods exports as well as a 22.9% surge in base metal shipments.
Despite the deceleration in growth, the 12-month trailing sum of exports continued to trend higher as it reached a total of USD 294 billion in May, a figure that was 7.8% higher compared with the same period last year and a marginal improvement from April’s USD 292 billion figure. May’s growth rate marked the best reading in more than five years.
Meanwhile, imports growth decelerated from a 23.5% surge in April to a still-robust expansion of 10.2% in May, totaling USD 22.1 billion. May’s expansion brought imports to a total of USD 248 billion over the previous 12 months, a 9.4% increase year-on-year and a slight increase from April’s USD 246 billion reading.
The faster deceleration in imports growth prompted Taiwan’s trade surplus to total USD 3.5 billion in May, an improvement from April’s surplus of USD 2.8 billion. Despite the larger surplus, the weaker performance of the external sector in the first two months of Q2 points to a deceleration in overall economic growth in Taiwan. In the 12 months up to May, the trade surplus totaled USD 46.2 billion, marginally below April’s USD 46.3 billion reading and the narrowest surplus since March 2015.
Author: David Ampudia, Economist