TAIPEI: Taiwan's exports fell for a fifth straight month in January due to a deteriorating global economy and factory closures during the long Chinese New Year holiday, with the outlook remaining poor in the short term.
Exports dropped 21.2 per cent by value last month from a year earlier to NT$31.51 billion, the Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday (Feb 7).
That followed a 12.1 per cent drop in December, and was slightly worse than Reuters poll forecast for a 20 per cent contraction.
The ministry said seasonally weaker global demand after the year-end festive period and fewer working days, as the Chinese New Year fell in January this year, dragged on exports.
Taiwan's total shipments of electronics components in January fell 20.1 per cent to NT$12.72 billion, the worst decline in 11 years, with semiconductor exports down 18.3 per cent from a year earlier.
Firms such as TSMC, the world's largest contract chipmaker, are major suppliers to Apple Inc and other global tech giants, as well as providers of chips for auto companies and lower-end consumer goods.
United Microelectronics, a smaller competitor of TSMC, reported on Monday that January sales dropped 4.31 per cent year-on-year.
At NT$10.44 billion in January, Taiwan's exports to China, the island's largest trading partner, plummeted 33.5 per cent from a year earlier, after suffering a 16.4 per cent drop in December, even as Beijing dismantled its zero-COVID regime.
Taiwan's finance ministry said continued tightening of monetary policy in major economies will weigh on overall demand, coupled with other risks such as the war in Ukraine and China-US trade tensions.
"It will not be easy to recover significantly in the short term," it said, predicting that February exports could contract 7 per cent to 11 per cent from a year earlier, and drop around 10 per cent in the first quarter.
January's exports to the United States were down 14.5 per cent, compared with a 2.6 per cent contraction recorded the previous month.
Taiwan's January imports, often seen as a leading indicator of re-exports of finished products, fell 16.6 per cent to NT$29.17 billion. That compared with economists' expectations of a 18.2 per cent fall and after an 11.4 per cent decline in December.