(Adds details, comments)
* May exports +1.4 pct y/y vs +4.0 pct in Reuters poll
* Exports to China +6.4 pct y/y, U.S. +1.0 pct y/y
By Faith Hung and Roger Tung
TAIPEI, June 9 Taiwan reported sluggish export
growth in May and a surprising decline in imports that suggest
demand in its key markets and the global tech sector may not be
The trade-reliant economy is hoping that recovering growth
momentum in the United States and Europe will help to partly
counter a slowdown in its biggest trading partner, China.
However, imports, most of which are components used for
re-exports, shrank 2.3 percent in May from a year earlier,
Taiwan's finance ministry said on Monday. That was far below the
8.9 percent increase estimated in a Reuters poll of 11
Exports edged up 1.4 percent in May, missing the average
forecast of 4 percent in the poll.
"It looks like our competitiveness isn't getting much higher
in a global context - a few years back we used to register
double-digit export growth and that's dropped off dramatically.
Now we're looking at max trend growth for this sector at about 5
percent," said analyst Michelle Tsai of Jin Sun Securities,
China's exports gained steam in May thanks to firmer global
demand, data showed on Sunday, but an unexpected fall in imports
signalled weaker domestic demand that could continue to weigh on
the world's second-largest economy.
Exports to China in May grew 6.4 percent from a year
earlier, but those to the United States -- Taiwan's No.2 export
market -- inched up 1 percent.
Shipments to Europe rose 5.8 percent, while those to Japan
grew 2.6 percent.
While mainland China is the top destination, it is also a
competitor of Taiwan's tech exports.
Recent data from the United States points to a firming
recovery after a sub-par winter. Growth in the U.S. services
sector accelerated in May, with a key index reaching a high not
seen since last August, while employment returned to its
pre-recession peak in May.
But the euro zone, where growth has been negative or flat
for years, is facing fresh fears of deflation, leading the
European Central Bank to cut interest rates to record lows last
Taiwan's tech sector has shown mixed readings recently, with
smartphone maker HTC posting a 27 percent drop in May
Beleaugured computer vendor Acer Inc managed to
swing to a profit in the first quarter, beating expectations of
a fourth consecutive net loss.
Forward indicators, however, point to Taiwan gaining from
the recovery in global demand with export orders in April edging
up to a 15-month high and manufacturing activity showing signs
Taiwan's finance ministry also said it sees export growth in
June will be positive year on year due to more working days this
(Additional reporting by Michael Gold; Editing by Jacqueline