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Taiwan’s MOF Reports Highest Ever Feb. Export Figures

Source: Taiwantrade | Updated: 10 March 2011

The number was a year-on-year increase of 27.3 percent and a slight decrease of US$4.1 billion from January, due to fewer workdays in February.

February only had 28 days to start with. Meanwhile, the month saw a six-day Lunar New Year break that lasted from Feb. 2 to 7, during which most business and manufacturing activities stopped in observance of the most important holiday in Chinese culture.

As for imports, they reached US$20.33 billion in February, a year-on-year increase of 28.7 percent. The figures translated into a trade surplus of US$920 million.

Cumulatively, exports totaled US$46.6 billion in January and February, a rise of 21.3 percent from the same period last year. Imports totaled US$43.79 billion for the first two months of 2011, a rise of 25 percent from the same period last year.

The MOF revealed the data in a news conference on March 7, at a time when oil prices have surged by a significant margin.

Taiwan's economists, meanwhile, identified a link between oil prices and import and export figures.

Hsiao Cheng-yi, economist with UBS Taiwan, said last year oil imports accounted for 6 percent of Taiwan's GDP and 10 percent of total imports. An increase of oil prices by 20 percent to US$120 a barrel may begin to hurt Taiwan's economy, he said.

The impact will be smaller if oil hovers between US$110 and US$120, he said.

Hsiao had predicted February exports and imports to grow 19.8 percent and 21.5 percent, respectively, compared to the same period last year. He pointed out in the short term, oil prices will be dependent on whether this wave of civil unrest in North Africa will be spread to Saudi Arabia.

He said oil reserves in Saudi Arabia are still at a tolerable level and are enough to make up for shortfalls in other parts of the world, adding the current oil price increases are not likely to drag down growth in Europe and the United States.

Cheng Chen-mao, chief economist with Citibank, had predicted exports and imports to grow 24.6 percent and 23.4 percent, respectively, year-on-year. He said an increase in oil prices was just a short-term phenomenon and would not create a huge impact on Taiwan's economy.

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