Taiwan Export Orders Surge

Taiwan’s exporters defied a global slowdown to post record orders in 2020, fueled by rising demand for chips and smartphones. Export orders climbed 10.1% last year to $533.7 billion, an all-time high, according to data from Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs. Orders surged 38.3% in December from a year earlier, the fastest pace since March 2010, to reach a new monthly record of $60.6 billion.

Officials see the strong growth continuing into the new year, forecasting January orders to rise between 44.5% and 48.7%. The Lunar New Year holiday falling in February this year will not affect January’s numbers, according to the ministry’s statistics department. Orders for smartphones in December were higher than officials had projected.

“Taiwan exports have been doing particularly well even when in those months last year that the virus spread faster,” said Winston Chiao, a leading economist. “We expect it will be the same pattern this year.” He said he plans to revise up his estimate for economic growth in 2021 to 3.5%-4%.

Concerns among some exporters that the strength of the Taiwan dollar might weigh on demand appear to have been unfounded. The currency rose in early January to its highest level against the U.S. dollar since 1997.