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Taiwan November exports grow at fastest rate in nearly 4 years
[TAIPEI] Taiwan's exports in November grew at their strongest pace in nearly four years, as global retailers stocked up on the island's hi-tech gadgets for the year-end shopping season, but analysts said momentum will fade as seasonal demand peaks.
The better-than-expected growth should mean Taiwan's central bank will keep its interest rate unchanged again at a quarterly meeting on Dec 22.
Exports grew 12.1 per cent from a year earlier, the fastest on-year pace since January 2013, when exports expanded 21.94 per cent, the Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday.
A Reuters poll expected 7.3 per cent growth. In October, exports grew 9.4 per cent, the fastest year-on-year growth since August 2014.
The growth stems from "strong semiconductor demand and improving prices of basic metal, crude oil and related products," the ministry said.
"However, the momentum would be capped by the stiff competition of global industries, the direction of protectionism by US President-elect Trump as well as the localisation of China's supply chain," it said.
Taiwan's exports for the fourth quarter are upbeat but there are a lot of uncertainties for 2017, said Beatrice Tsai, a director of the ministry.
November's exports to China and the United States, Taiwan's two biggest markets, rose 19 per cent and 9.1 per cent, respectively. They accelerated from October's 14.9 per cent and 7.8 per cent.
Shipments to Europe rose 1.9 per cent, compared with 6.8 per cent in October, and those to Japan expanded 0.8 per cent, down from 3.5 per cent the previous month.
Taiwan is one of Asia's major suppliers of technology components to global names including Apple Inc, and its export trend is a key gauge of global demand for technology gadgets.
Apple has projected record revenue for its current, holiday-dominated quarter even as it said its bigger iPhone 7 Plus model was in short supply.
Taiwan's imports rose 3 per cent in November on-year, sharply slower than 19.5 per cent in October but more than an expected rise of 2 per cent.
Stubbornly sluggish global demand and lower prices for commodities such as crude oil have weighed on Asia's export-reliant economies for the last few years, and the outlook for 2017 has been further clouded by fears of rising US trade protectionism under Trump.