TAIPEI, Sept 9 — Taiwan’s export growth doubled market expectations in August ahead of the launch of Apple Inc’s newest smartphone packed with components made by the island’s technology firms.
Exports in August leapt 9.6 percent from a year earlier to US$28.1 billion (RM89.7 billion), its second-highest monthly level.
A Reuters poll of analysts estimated exports would grow just 4.58 per cent in August from a year earlier.
The value of technology exports last month hit a monthly record of US$9.23 billion, data from the Ministry of Finance showed today.
The figures come just hours ahead of the launch of Apple’s new product offerings, including the much-anticipated iPhone 6, a new smartphone to be fitted with bigger screens, sleeker designs and possibly extra-tough screens made from scratch resistant sapphire material.
“Optimism around the iPhone 6 is running high given Apple’s user loyalty and installed base of over 300 million iPhones, which could drive a big upgrade cycle,” HSBC analyst Steven Pelayo wrote in a recent research note.
Taiwan’s heavily trade-dependent economy has gained from improving US demand, especially the island’s manufacturers, who are a major part of the global technology supply chain.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, to parts assemblers Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd and Pegatron Corp and metal casings maker Catcher Technology Co Ltd , are among suppliers to Apple. Many firms receive their orders in Taiwan but export via mainland China, where numerous Taiwanese factories are located.
Exports to China, Taiwan’s largest export destination, rose 8.7 per cent in August from a year earlier, picking up speed from July’s 6.5 per cent pace.
For the month, Taiwan’s imports also rose a strong 14.1 per cent from a year earlier, resulting in a trade surplus of US$4.11 billion in August, finance ministry data showed.
Government agencies have said the new Apple smartphone will help bolster Taiwan’s economic expansion this year.
It is likely that full year export growth will exceed the government’s current forecast of 3.21 per cent, said Yeh Maan-Tzwu, director general of the finance ministry’s statistics department.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report that demand for semiconductors and camera lenses used in the iPhone 6 should add 2 per cent to Taiwan’s monthly exports for August, September and October.
“There’s really no one single driver out there that could exceed Apple’s contribution to Taiwan’s exports,” said Masterlink Securities economist Anita Hsu. “Considering this high level of dependence, we wouldn’t be surprised if export growth in the fourth quarter averaged below 5 per cent.”
Hsu added that she remains concerned for Taiwan’s exports heading into the fourth quarter once the Apple effect tapers off. — Reuters