Taiwan October exports beat expectations on surging work-from-home demand

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan’s exports rose in October for the fourth consecutive month and at an expectation-beating pace, boosted by surging demand for the island’s electronic goods as people work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Trucks wait to be loaded on with containers at a port in Keelung, Taiwan, June 10, 2020. REUTERS/Ann Wang

Exports jumped 11.2% from a year earlier to $32.2 billion inOctober, a record high for any month, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday, and the strongest growth since February. Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a modest rise of 4.2% for October.

The ministry attributed the growth to ongoing strong demand for electronics, driven by new technology such as fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications networks and telecommuting, as millions of people are forced to work from home globally.

Healthy demand for electronics ahead of the year-end shopping season, traditionally a busy time for Taiwan’s exporters, also boosted export growth, the ministry said.

Exports of telecommuting products - such as wireless keyboards and headphones - rose 20.8% from a year earlier to a record high for any month, while electronic components grew 21.8% and semiconductors rose 22.2%.

The ministry said it saw a “comprehensive expansion” in exports to all of Taiwan’s major markets. Exports to the United States and Japan both reached record highs by value, growing an annual 21.4% and 4.8% respectively.

Tech powerhouse Taiwan could see November exports rise in the range of a 5% to 8% on year, the ministry said.

However, it said the rebounding pandemic, with renewed lockdowns in some countries, as well as U.S.-China trade tension offered uncertainty going forward.

Taiwan’s October imports fell 1%, against economists’ expectations for a 2.5% decrease.

Taiwan's manufacturers are a key part of the global supply chain for tech giants such as Apple Inc AAPL.O.

In China, Taiwan’s largest trading partner, exports grew at the fastest pace in 19 months in October, while imports also rose, official data showed on Saturday.

Reporting by Roger Tung and Yimou Lee; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sam Holmes and Christopher Cushing