Taiwan: Exports rebound in August but lower export orders in July indicate lingering weakness
Merchandise exports grew 2.6% in August compared to the same month a year earlier, contrasting the 0.5% fall in July. A solid increase in electronic product exports, which account for around one third of total shipments, boosted August’s reading. Reduced exports of base metal products, and machinery, plastics and rubber had the opposite effect, however. Meanwhile, export orders—which typically lead actual exports by two to three months—fell 3.0% in July. This is up slightly from the 4.5% decrease in June but still suggests that Taiwan’s external sector will remain plagued by weak demand in the coming months.
Merchandise imports tumbled 2.7% in August, after falling 5.4% in July, on significantly lower chemical and metal imports.
The 12-month trailing sum of exports fell 1.3% in August, matching July’s drop, while growth of the 12-month trailing sum of imports slowed to 2.0% in August from 2.9% in July.
The trade surplus rose to USD 6.0 billion in August from both USD 4.6 billion in August 2018 and USD 3.6 billion in the previous month. The 12-month trailing trade surplus rose to USD 46.6 billion in August from USD 45.2 billion in July.