[TAIPEI] Taiwan continued to benefit from global demand for its electronics goods, with exports rising for a ninth straight month in March.
Exports increased 27.1 per cent last month to almost US$35.9 billion, according to a statement Friday from Taiwan's Ministry of Finance. Economists had forecast shipments would increase by 20 per cent.
"We expect exports to continue growing robustly, supported by a global recovery, buoyant demand for semiconductors, and a broadening of demand for non-tech goods such as chemicals, plastics, and metals," Lloyd Chan, an economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a research note. "Rising electronics export orders and the global chip shortage all point to continuing rapid growth in the electronics sector, particularly in the foundry industry."
Friday's data add to signals from other exporting economies in the region that demand is improving in the US and Europe. South Korean exports increased 16.6 per cent in March from a year earlier, while Chinese shipments jumped 60.6 per cent in dollar terms in January and February combined.
Demand for electronics during the pandemic has led to shortages of computer chips, pushing up their prices and further boosting the value of Taiwan's exports. Excluding January's increase, which may have been distorted by the Lunar New Year holiday, exports grew last month by the fastest pace since 2017.
The country's major technology companies have been scrambling to keep up with overseas demand. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the island's largest company, reported an almost 14 per cent increase in sales in March, with revenue hitting US$4.54 billion.
Exporters shipped a record-high US$13.5 billion in electronic components, which includes semiconductors, in March. China and the US were the main drivers of March's growth, with shipments to China rising 36.3 per cent and to the US up 34.7 per cent.
Taiwan's government expects exports to grow 9.6 per cent this year on the back of increased semiconductor demand.
March imports jumped 2 per cent to US$32.2 billion, coming in above US$30 billion for the first time. The trade surplus narrowed to US$3.7 billion.