December 20, 2019 / 8:54 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Taiwan Nov export orders drop amid trade war 'disruption'

* Nov orders -6.6% y/y vs -1.5% in Reuters poll

* Orders from China -1.2% y/y; U.S. -4.0%

* Ministry sees Dec orders between -1.3% to +1.0% y/y

* Ministry blames weak market demand, trade war “disruption”

By Roger Tung and Yimou Lee

TAIPEI, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Taiwan’s November export orders fell for the 13th straight month and at a faster pace, with the government blaming weak market demand and “disruption” from the China-U.S. trade war despite signs of a pick-up in global demand for electronics.

Orders in November fell 6.6% from a year earlier to $44.53 billion, data from Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs showed on Friday. That was far worse than economists’ expectations for a 1.5% decline in a Reuters poll and also worse than October’s 3.5% fall.

The ministry said orders for electronics were at the second highest on record for November, and that the fall in orders was against a high base for the same time last year.

But it also blamed the protracted trade war between Beijing and Washington and weak market demand for the drop in orders.

The ministry said it sees December export orders in a range of -1.3% to +1.0% year-on-year.

“It shows that external demand has not really recovered,” said DBS economist Ma Tieying, referring to the sluggish global economy.

Orders that shifted to Taiwan from China due to trade war disruptions may have boosted the island’s exports, but that does not suggest a recovery in global demand, she added.

The trade-reliant island’s exports showed their strongest growth in more than a year in November amid signs of a pick-up in global demand for electronics.

“Export orders still have a chance to return to growth in the first half of next year,” Ma said, citing rising demand for 5G telecommunications technologies and a recovery in the Apple supply chain, which was boosted by strong sales of the iPhone 11.

Taiwan’s manufacturers are a key part of the global supply chain for tech giants such as Apple and Huawei and its exports have been hit by both trade tensions and sluggish global demand for hi-tech gadgets.

Analysts have said returning production from Taiwan manufacturers to the island had offset the impact from the trade war between China and the United States, its two largest trading partners.

November orders from the United States slipped 4.0% from a year earlier, compared with October’s 3.0% decline.

Orders from China slid 1.2% versus a 7.3% fall the previous month. Orders from European buyers fell 13.5% while those from Japan were down 11.1%.

Taiwan’s central bank slightly raised its 2020 economic growth forecast to 2.57% from a previous 2.34% on Thursday, as some manufacturers move factories back to the island to avoid higher tariffs as the U.S.-China trade war drags on. (Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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