* Exports -15.8 pct y/y vs median -9.75 pct y/y in Reuters
* Total Jan-Feb exports up 2 pct from same period year
* Feb exports to China -21.8 pct y/y
* Feb exports to U.S. -11.9 pct y/y
By Faith Hung and Jeanny Kao
TAIPEI, March 7 Taiwan's February exports posted
their biggest slide in 13 months, down 15.8 percent from a year
ago, reflecting fewer working days during the Lunar New Year
holidays but also underscoring a still patchy recovery in global
Imports in February also slipped a wider-than-forecast 8.5
percent, the government said on Thursday.
The trade-reliant economy's exports have been supported by
strong demand from China and a surge in worldwide spending on
high-tech gadgets such as smartphones and tablet PCs.
Still, Taiwan's combined exports in January and February, a
more accurate gauge of trends, grew 2 percent from the same
period a year earlier, data showed.
"February exports were lower than our forecast due to fewer
working days in China. But a 2 percent growth in Jan-Feb exports
was not bad," said Aidan Wang, analyst at Yuanta Securities.
"Q2 and Q3 should be very good because of low bases and the
economic up cycle. We believe the economy will enter a phase of
early expansion in Q2 after recovery."
Data in February was expected to be skewed by the timing of
the Lunar New Year when factories shut in Taiwan and mainland
China, for up to a week or longer.
The Lunar New Year fell in February this year but in January
last year. Some analysts have said that a decline in exports
does not necessarily reflect weakening global demand.
Taiwan's annual exports were forecast to have shrunk 9.75
percent in February, and imports by 6.80 percent, according to
the median forecasts of 10 economists in a Reuters poll.
The last time Taiwan's exports fell at a sharper pace was
January 2012, when they dropped 16.7 percent, according to
previously released data.
Shipments to its largest export market China declined 21.8
percent last month, while those to the United States fell 11.9
percent and Europe down 17.2 percent.
Economists expect Taiwan's export trends to mirror the
improved outlook in global trade this year but the health of
Asian exports depends on a global economic recovery which is
still fragile. Asia's exports have recently been mixed.
South Korea's exports fell sharply in February as the yen's
slide on Japan's stimulus policies hit Korean manufacturers.
Taiwan's exports orders in January surged 18 percent from a
year earlier, providing evidence that global demand for Asian
technology goods remains healthy.
Taiwanese firms are the main suppliers to most of the
world's top technology brands, including Apple Inc,
Dell Inc and Nokia Oyj.
Scott Chen, economist at Sinopac Commercial Bank, said there
may be risks in the months ahead.
"The export figures showed in reality actually demand was
not as strong, especially that from China and Europe."