Taiwan’s export orders in March plunged by the most since the global financial crisis as global demand for semiconductors shows little sign of improving.
Overseas orders to Taiwanese companies shrank to $46.6 billion last month, a 25.7% drop compared to a year ago. It was also worse than the median estimate of a 18.6% decline from economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
The contraction was the largest since January 2009.
Weakening demand for electronics components, which includes semiconductors, was the main factor behind the decline. Orders for components fell 29.4%, also the biggest fall since 2009.
Earlier sales data from industry leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. indicated the weakness in global demand.
The world’s biggest contract manufacturer of chips missed revenue estimates for the second straight quarter, with sales coming in at NT$508.6 billion ($16.7 billion) in the January-to-March period, TSMC said earlier this month. That compared to analyst estimates of NT$518.49 billion.
During a briefing about earnings on Thursday, TSMC Chief Executive Officer C. C. Wei said the company was “passing through the bottom of the cycle” of its business in the second quarter.
The markets for PCs and smartphones “continue to be soft,” he added.
In terms of regions, waning demand from the US was a particular concern for ING Bank NV chief China economist Iris Pang.
She pointed out that while orders from China and Hong Kong fell more than 30% year-on-year, the dollar amount was more or less in line with Chinese orders from November and December. US orders in March were well down from their levels late last year.
“Taiwan’s export should continue to fall if the US economy weakens further,” she said in a message.