* Feb exports +27.7 pct y/y, vs +16.8 pct poll forecast
* Total Jan-Feb exports +16.2 pct from year earlier
* Jan-Feb surplus with US at $137 mln, far below year
* Exports strong even though Taiwan dollar gains 4 pct this
(Adds comments, details)
By Jeanny Kao and J.R. Wu
TAIPEI, March 7 Trade-dependent Taiwan produced
solid export figures for the start of 2017 that showed a sharp
narrowing of its surplus with the United States from a year
In February, exports jumped 27.7 percent from a year
earlier, their fastest pace in six years. That was due in large
part to a low base a year earlier, but the figures signalled
continuing good demand for the island's technology gadgets.
Data for January and February tends to be analyzed together
for a better reading on how a year is starting, because of
distortions from the timing of Taiwan's long Lunar New Year
This year the holiday began in late January, and last year
it started in February.
Total exports rose a solid 16.2 percent for the
January-February period from a year earlier, with their
performance swinging from a contraction in early 2016 when
Taiwan was emerging from a technical recession.
Imports in January-February were nearly 23 percent higher
than a year earlier.
The value of February exports was $22.66 billion, compared
with January's $23.74 billion, finance ministry data showed on
"Today's strong numbers imply that this round of trade
recovery will last for a while," said Claire Huang, economist
with Societe Generale, adding that Taiwan's export outlook for
the first half looks good.
Exports of electronic components were up 18.9 percent for
the first two months of the year from the same period a year
earlier, gaining nearly 30 percent in February alone.
Shipments of information, telecommunication and audio goods
were also up by strong double-digit percents, the data showed.
The outlook for Taiwan exports is helped by expectations
there will be a new iPhone this year, and many of its components
will be made on the island.
In February, the annual growth pace of exports to major
trading partners China and the United States more than doubled
Taiwanese government officials have been focused on the
island's trade with the United States out of concern President
Donald Trump could direct punitive trade policies against the
export-driven island if Washington thinks the Taiwan dollar is
The Taiwan dollar has strengthened more than 4 percent
against the U.S. dollar in 2017, making it one of the best
performing Asian currencies this year, in part as the island's
central bank has reduced its intervention.
In the past week, Taiwan authorities have gone to unusual
lengths to analyze trade data to show Taiwan's trade surplus
with its second largest export destination was shrinking.
At a briefing on the February trade data, finance ministry
official Beatrice Tsai said "Companies have globalized for a
long time so they should have ways to hedge against forex
Taiwan's trade surplus for the first two months of 2017 with
the United States was $137 million, less than one-fifth of the
$756 million surplus in January-February 2016.
(Additional reporting by Jess Macy Yu; Editing by Richard