Taiwan continued to benefit from global demand for its electronics goods, with exports rising for a ninth straight month in March.
Exports increased 27.1% last month to almost $35.9 billion, according to a statement Friday from Taiwan’s Ministry of Finance. Economists had forecast shipments would increase by 20%.
“We expect exports to continue growing robustly, supported by a global recovery, buoyant demand for semiconductors, and a broadening of demand for non-tech goods such as chemicals, plastics, and metals,” Lloyd Chan, an economist at Oxford Economics Ltd., wrote in a research note. “Rising electronics export orders and the global chip shortage all point to continuing rapid growth in the electronics sector, particularly in the foundry industry.”
Friday’s data add to signals from other exporting economies in the region that demand is improving in the U.S. and Europe. South Korean exports increased 16.6% in March from a year earlier, while Chinese shipments jumped 60.6% in dollar terms in January and February combined.
Demand for electronics during the pandemic has led to shortages of computer chips, pushing up their prices and further boosting the value of Taiwan’s exports. Excluding January’s increase, which may have been distorted by the Lunar New Year holiday, exports grew last month by the fastest pace since 2017.
The country’s major technology companies have been scrambling to keep up with overseas demand. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the island’s largest company, reported an almost 14% increase in sales in March, with revenue hitting $4.54 billion.
Exporters shipped a record-high $13.5 billion in electronic components, which includes semiconductors, in March. China and the U.S. were the main drivers of March’s growth, with shipments to China rising 36.3% and to the U.S. up 34.7%.
Taiwan’s government expects exports to grow 9.6% this year on the back of increased semiconductor demand.
March imports jumped 27% to $32.2 billion, coming in above $30 billion for the first time. The trade surplus narrowed to $3.7 billion.