June 20, 2020 / 8:45 AM / 19 days ago

Taiwan May export orders up, flags better outlook though wary of pandemic

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan’s export orders edged up for a third consecutive month in May, thanks to sustained demand for telecommuting products like laptops during the coronavirus pandemic that has forced millions of people globally to work at home.

A person drives a motorcycle by shipping containers at a port in Keelung, Taiwan, June 10, 2020. REUTERS/Ann Wang

Export orders for Taiwan, seen as a bellwether of global technology demand, rose 0.4% from a year earlier to $38.9 billion, Ministry of Economic Affairs data showed on Saturday. The uptick, however, lagged a Reuters poll estimate for a 1.1% rise compared with 2.3% growth in April.

The ministry, which has repeatedly cautioned of a difficult outlook for Taiwan’s orders due to the coronavirus impact, said the May numbers were helped by “flourishing” demand for equipment from people working from home.

Looking ahead, the outlook was brighter with the pandemic abating in Europe and the United States and economic activity gradually resuming around the world, it added.

However, it cautioned that uncertainties from the pandemic, as well as China-U.S. trade tensions, could still harm Taiwan’s export.

The ministry said it expects June export orders to be in a range of 0% growth to a 3.9% rise from a year earlier.

Taiwan’s manufacturers, a key part of the global supply chain for tech giants such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Huawei Technologies, have been hit hard by faltering global demand for electronics in the wake of containment measures and lockdowns in many countries.

May orders from the United States rose 8.6% from a year earlier, compared with 6.8% growth in April, while those from China were up 2.7% versus a 9.2% gain the previous month. European orders rose 12.3% but were down 8.1% from Japan.

Taiwan’s economic growth slowed to its weakest in nearly four years in the first quarter as the pandemic crimped domestic consumption and tourism.

In response, the government has stepped up support measures, and is rolling out a stimulus package it expects will eventually be worth T$1.05 trillion ($35.01 billion).

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Emily Chan; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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