Taiwan: Exports contract marginally, pushing trade surplus lower
Merchandise exports contracted 0.6% in annual terms in March, contrasting February’s stellar 24.9% expansion. The mild overall fall belied markedly lower exports of machinery, plastics and base metals, partially offset by higher outflows of electronic products. Meanwhile, export orders—which typically lead actual exports by two to three months—decreased 0.8% in February, the latest month for which data is available, suggesting a continued slowdown in trade momentum going forward.
Meanwhile, merchandise imports inched up 0.5% year-on-year in March, slowing considerably from the rapid 44.7% increase recorded in the prior month. As with exports, the marginal overall increase veiled a marked increase in electronics inflows, partly offset by falling imports of mineral products and machinery.
As such, the trade surplus dropped to an 11-month low of USD 2.8 billion in March, down from both the USD 3.1 billion figure observed in March 2019, and the USD 3.3 billion surplus recorded in the previous month. The 12-month trailing trade surplus inched marginally lower to USD 44.0 billion in March from USD 44.3 billion in February.