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Taiwan August exports fall for 7th month, outlook bleaker

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Taiwan's exports fell for a seventh straight month in August, raising the prospect that full-year growth will likely tumble to a 2009 low amid softening global demand for its tech products.

[TAIPEI] Taiwan's exports fell for a seventh straight month in August, raising the prospect that full-year growth will likely tumble to a 2009 low amid softening global demand for its tech products.

Exports last month contracted 14.8 per cent from a year earlier, worse than a forecast 13.5 per cent decline in a Reuters poll and an 11.9 per cent fall in July.

The finance ministry said on Monday it would be difficult for exports to post year-on-year growth for the rest of this year.

Patchy global growth and easing demand for tech products after a rush of orders from Apple Inc that produced a windfall for Taiwan's manufacturers last year, will cast a shadow on the island's export-driven economy. "The latest export and import data both missed expectations, putting pressure on the government to slash its 2015 GDP target again," said Lucas Lee, analyst of Mega Securities, Taipei.

Weak exports and sluggish domestic consumption prompted the government in August to cut its 2015 GDP target to 1.56 per cent, the worst since the financial crisis.

Taiwan is one of Asia's major exporters of technology goods, and its shipments trend is a key gauge of global demand for technology gadgets.

With no imminent sign of any improvement in the global economy, Taiwan's central bank may cut its policy interest rate in September or December to bolster growth, some analysts have said.

Exports to China shrank 16.6 per cent last month from a year ago, more than July's 13.8 per cent fall, while those to the United States fell 6 per cent after a 1.0 per cent rise in July.

But overall weakness in the economies of Taiwan's major partners, especially China, will likely keep a lid on its exports. China's giant manufacturing industry contracted and euro zone and US growth eased in August, data published earlier this month showed, while the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for world growth this year.

Taiwan's tech titans are also downbeat.

Manufacturers in the upstream supply chain such as TSMC and Mediatek Inc, both chipmakers, and ASE , which tests and packages chips, have warned recently against being optimistic about the second half of the year, traditionally a peak season for the tech sector.

REUTERS