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Gantry cranes and a container ship at the Port of Keelung in Keelung, Taiwan, on Jan. 7, 2022.
Gantry cranes and a container ship at the Port of Keelung in Keelung, Taiwan, on Jan. 7, 2022. (I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg)

Taiwan exports extended their double-digit growth for a tenth month, with shipments from the island in 2021 smashing all records due to soaring demand for technology products and components.

Overseas shipments in December grew 23.4% from a year earlier to $40.7 billion, according to a statement from Taiwan’s Ministry of Finance Friday. Exports in 2021 were a record $446.5 billion, more than $100 billion higher than in 2020. Imports gained 28.1% in December, with the trade surplus widening to $5.8 billion.

“The impressive trade performance will have a positive spill-over effect to the underlying economy,” Barclays Bank economist Angela Hsieh said ahead of Friday’s release. “We have seen encouraging signs of improved wage growth, especially for the manufacturing sector.”

Electronic components and audio-visual products continued to be the main drivers of growth, with exports increasing 27.5% and 22.4% respectively in December.

While the pace of shipments to the U.S. surged 29%, exports to China, including Hong Kong, rose 16.2%. Exports to Southeast Asia also saw strong growth. China is still the number one export destination for goods from Taiwan

The government sees the growth momentum continuing in the current quarter of this year, the Finance Ministry’s Chief Statistician Beatrice Tsai said in a briefing in Taipei, forecasting it would expand compared with the first quarter of 2021.

“2021’s strong exports performance are likely to continue in the first half of 2022 as the omicron variant might cause pandemic influences to linger in some countries,” said Kevin Wang, economist at Taishin Securities Investment Advisory. Exports were also relatively weaker in the first half of last year, which should flatter the growth figures in the first half of this year, he said.

Taiwan’s exports have soared all year in 2021 and hit a monthly record in November. The central bank expects both exports and private investment to continue to increase moderately in 2022.

Overseas shipments are expected to grow 6.14% this year from a year earlier, the government’s statistics bureau forecast in November. Friday’s data comes after iPhone maker Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. posted a record NT$5.9 trillion ($213 billion) revenue figure for last year due to strong demand for consumer products.

The IHS Markit Taiwan manufacturing PMI climbed to a 55.5 last month, the highest reading since Aug. 2021. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is forecast to report record revenue in the last quarter when it announces its results next week.

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