Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2023
Taiwan’s exports declined more than expected in March as global demand for electronics remained weak, suggesting the worst is not yet over for the trade-dependent economy.
Overseas shipments fell 19.1% last month from a year earlier, the Ministry of Finance said Tuesday. That was worse than the median estimate of a 15.4% fall in a Bloomberg survey of economists, and compared to February’s 17.1% plunge.
Imports dropped 20.1% last month, far more severe than the median estimate of an 11.4% slump. The trade surplus was $4.2 billion.
Exports have now fallen for seven consecutive months as rising interest rates, surging inflation and the ongoing banking crisis dent consumer sentiment. While declines in February and March were marginally better than January’s plummet of 21.2%, trade will likely drag on the economy for some time to come.
“The light at the end of the tunnel will not be seen until the fourth quarter,” the finance ministry’s chief statistician Beatrice Tsai said in a briefing, referring to the unlikelihood of a year-on-year rise in exports until then.
Taiwan sees exports falling between 18% and 20% in April, with overseas shipments for the entirety of the second quarter dropping 15% from a year earlier, Tsai added.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. — a major contributor to the island’s economy and which holds more than than half of the market share in global semiconductor manufacturing — said this week it missed sales estimates for the second consecutive quarter, and earlier slashed its capital spending plans for the year.
Poor trade data has added to the economic concerns facing policymakers, as uncomfortably high inflation led Taiwan’s central bank last month to unexpectedly raise its key interest rate.
Data on Tuesday showed Taiwan’s consumer price index rising 2.35% in March from a year prior, according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics. That was higher than the median estimate of a 2.2% uptick in a Bloomberg survey of economists.