Taiwan Import Surge Squeezes Trade Surplus in January

02/07/18 03:49 AM EST
   By Paul Jackson 

Taiwan's exports expanded at their fastest pace in four months in January but showed some slowing in the growth of electronics shipments, while a surge in imports squeezed the island's trade surplus.

Exports gained 15.3% from a year earlier to $27.38 billion, finance ministry data showed Wednesday, coming up short of a 19% expected gain from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

Imports of oil, electronic components and chemicals grew sharply to push up imports by 23.3%, cutting the trade surplus to US$2.42 billion from US$6.13 billion in December. Analysts expected imports to rise 15%.

The export data showed shipments of integrated circuits rose 11.9%, in line with the overall growth in exports of electronics components. That was slower than last month's gain of more than 20%. Electronics account for about 35% of the island's exports.

Taiwan plays a key role in the global tech supply chain and its exports are closely watched as a gauge of tech cycle strength. The island is home to major Apple Inc. suppliers Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Foxconn Technology Co.

The value of shipments to mainland China and Hong Kong, accounting for about 40% of the total, continued to grow, gaining 21.1%. Shipments to Europe expanded 4.3%, while exports to the U.S. rose 11.1%.

Analysts expected exports to hold up well in January, in part because of the favorable effect of the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls in February this year. That gave January more working days than a year ago.

The ministry flagged domestic demand for imports ahead of the holidays as having contributed to the gain in imports. Higher oil and commodity prices were additional factors cited by the ministry.


Write to Paul Jackson at paul.jackson@wsj.com.


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 07, 2018 03:49 ET (08:49 GMT)

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