Taiwan August exports fall less than expected, growth seen resuming

Trucks drive between cargo containers at Port of Taichung in Taichung

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s exports dropped for the 12th consecutive month in August but less sharply than expected, and may return to growth in September ahead of the year-end holiday shopping season, the finance ministry said on Friday.

August exports dropped 7.3% in value from a year earlier to $37.36 billion, the ministry said, the smallest decline and first single-digit percentage fall since October. That compared with a 10.4% fall in July and exceeded a Reuters poll forecasting an 8.05% contraction.

Despite the stagnation in exports, a key driver for Taiwan’s economy, the island’s GDP returned to growth in the second quarter, helped by resilient domestic consumption.

The ministry forecast improved export performance in coming months, when orders traditionally pick up ahead of the busy year-end shopping season, which is expected to be driven this year by rising demand for high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, data centres and automotive electronics.

For September, the ministry said exports may expand, predicting a performance ranging from a contraction of 2% to growth of 2%.

In August, total shipments of electronic components fell 11.2% from the year before to $15.14 billion, with semiconductor exports down 10.4%.

Taiwanese firms such as TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, are major suppliers to Apple Inc, Nvidia and other global tech giants, while providing chips for auto companies and lower-end consumer goods.

TSMC reported earlier on Friday that August sales fell 13.5% year-on-year.

Taiwan’s exports to China fell 14.1% in August from a year earlier to $12.98 billion, after the prior month’s drop of 16.3%.

Exports to the United States rose 8.8% in August, after slipping an annual 3.3% in July.

Taiwan’s August imports, often seen as a leading indicator of re-exports of finished products, dropped 22.9% to $28.77 billion. That compared with economists’ forecasts of a 16.3% fall.

(Reporting by Emily Chan and Faith Hung; Editing by Edmund Klamann)