Taiwan exports plummet as coronavirus hits global tech demand

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Taiwan’s exports have plunged for a third consecutive month in March as the coronavirus pandemic hit global demand for electronics which are pivotal to the island state’s export-reliant economy.

According to a Reuters poll, the Island’s export orders fell in March at a much faster pace. The median forecast from the poll of 12 economists was for export orders to contract 10.15 percent from 2019. Forecasts widely ranged from a decline of 2 percent to 20 percent.

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According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic affairs, the country’s export orders declined 0.8 percent year-on-year to $ 28.68 billion in February of 2020, following a 12.8 percent fall in the previous month and compared with market expectations of a 0.6 percent decline.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to hurt the global economy and dent demand for consumer electronics and Taiwan’s export orders are an indicator of falling demand for Asia’s exports and hi-tech gadgets.

Companies in the island nation are major suppliers for global tech heavyweights such as Apple and Qualcomm and the continued drop in hi-tech orders show a decline in global electronics demand. Leading manufactures of smartphones and micro-chips are expecting sales to remain soft for some time longer.

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Apple's supply chain has been affected for months by the coronavirus, and the company has cut its sales expectations for the quarter, citing the virus’s impact on factories and stores, The New York Times reported.

Orders for optical, photographic, cinematographic equipment, electrical machinery, information and communication products, and chemicals declined in February.

The ministry said the spread of the coronavirus in Europe and the US had shrunk demand for telecommunication equipment, though production lines returning to work in China and more people having to work from home had somewhat offset that.

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Ministry official Beatrice Tsai said exports were likely to drop at a slower pace in the second quarter, partly due to a positive outlook for the trade talks between the United States and China, Taiwan’s main business partners.

-With Reuters

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