Taiwan exports slump not worst in world

Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT), chairman and presidential candidate Eric Chu (C) gestures during a rally ahead of Taiwan's election on January 16 in Taipei, January 9, 2016.
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan--The Ministry of Economic Affairs on Saturday said that the decline in Taiwan's export value in 2015 was steep but not the worst among major trading nations.

Ministry of Finance data released a day earlier showed that Taiwan's December exports plunged 13.9 per cent from a year earlier to mark the 11th straight month of contraction.

Exports for the year of 2015 fell 10.6 per cent, the steepest fall since a 20.3-per cent decrease in 2009.

According to the report, Taiwan's 2015 exports performed worse compared to shipments from mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, which saw year-on-year declines around 3 per cent, 1.9 per cent, 9.8 per cent and 7.9 per cent, respectively.

On Saturday, the Economics Ministry responded with a statement emphasizing that Taiwan's exports contraction was severe but not "in last place."

Not the Worst

Data from 2015 and 2014 both show that Taiwan's economic growth was not at the bottom among major trading nations in Asia or the world, the Economics Ministry stated.

The latest available figures from Singapore showed that the nation's exports contraction in the first 11 months of 2015 stood at 14.36 per cent. Meanwhile in Malaysia and Indonesia, January to October exports fell 14 per cent and 14.32 per cent, respectively.

Taiwan also fared comparatively well against Australia, where exports shrank 21.52 per cent in the first 10 months of the year; New Zealand, which posted a 17.85-per cent contraction in the first 10 months; and in the 28 countries of the European Union, where export value dropped 12.79 per cent in the first 10 months.

The Economics Ministry said that in 2014, Taiwan posted a 2.7-per cent gain in export value, outperforming South Korea's 2.33 per cent, Malaysia's 2.45 per cent, Thailand's 0.03 per cent, and the United States' 2.67 per cent.

In 2014, exports in Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, Australia and the European Union decreased by 0.12 per cent, 3.36 per cent, 3.43 per cent, 5.01 per cent and 2.02 per cent, respectively, well below Taiwan's 2.7-per cent gain.

Severe Contraction

In 2015, export performance was poor around the world on the continual decline in international crude oil price, protectionist policies and changes in the international supply chain, namely the rise of Chinese suppliers, according to the Economics Ministry's Bureau of Foreign Trade.

The global economic climate affected each trading nation differently, as each nation has a different industrial structure, the bureau said.

Though Taiwan's annual export value was not the hardest hit among major economies, it still reached double-digit contraction for the first time since the global financial crisis, according to the government data.

The Bureau of Foreign Trade said that the central government was working to spur exports through measures including expanding trade promotion overseas, inviting foreign buyers to procurement platforms in Taiwan and providing support to help domestic manufacturers develop foreign markets.