TAIPEI — Taiwan’s export orders in February shrank for a sixth straight month, though at a slower pace, dragged down by China and as global demand continued to be squeezed by inflation and interest rate hikes.
The island’s export orders, a bellwether for global technology demand, fell 18.3% from a year earlier to $42.12 billion, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said on Monday.
February’s number was worse than analysts’ expectations for a 15.0% decline, and compared with January’s 19.3% slump.
“Export orders in February missed expectations mainly because demand for consumer electronics was far less than expected … mainly because electronics and telecom products did not meet expectations,” the ministry said.
Orders for telecoms products dropped 20.3% and electronic products fell 21.9% from a year earlier, it said.
Global economic growth momentum could be constrained in the coming months as inflation and interest rate pressures persist, as well as no signs of let-up in the Russia-Ukraine war, the ministry said.
However, that would be offset by demand for emerging technologies such as high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, cloud data centers and automotive electronics, it added.
Taiwan’s export-driven economy has been hit by slowing demand from China and the United States, its two biggest markets.
Taiwan’s February orders from China were 35.5% lower than a year earlier, versus a 45.9% drop in January.
Most economists now expect Taiwan’s central bank to keep the benchmark interest rate unchanged at its quarterly rate-setting meeting on Thursday.
The ministry added that it expected export orders this month to fall by 20.2% to 23.4% from a year earlier.
Taiwanese firms, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd , are major suppliers to Apple Inc , Qualcomm Inc and other global tech companies.
Taiwan’s orders from the United States in February fell 12.6% from a year earlier, versus a 14.7% drop in January.
Export orders from Europe were down 13.1%, versus January’s gain of 18.3%. However, orders from Japan rose 5.5% year-on-year. (Reporting by Faith Hung and Jeanny Kao; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Jacqueline Wong)