Taiwan’s exports fell by the most since 2009 last month as waning global demand for technology products and the Lunar New Year holiday weighed on international trade.

Overseas shipments declined 21.2% in January from a year ago to $31.5 billion, the lowest since February 2021, data from Taiwan’s Finance Ministry showed Tuesday. Semiconductor exports fell 18.3%, the most in 14 years.

Weak demand, the war in Ukraine, and uncertainty surrounding China’s post-Covid reopening mean it is unlikely exports will pick up in the near future, with the ministry not expecting a turning point before the second half of this year, the ministry’s chief statistician Beatrice Tsai said at a briefing Tuesday.

Tuesday’s numbers may not be the nadir for Taiwan trade. The island’s key manufacturers predict further substantial declines in both output and new business in the coming months, according to S&P Global’s Taiwan manufacturing PMI survey published last week, as the US and European economies teeter on the brink of contraction.  

New export orders provide little cause for optimism. Overseas orders to Taiwanese firms fell more than 23% in both November and December from a year earlier, the fastest pace of contraction since 2009. 

However, industry heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. offers a sliver of positivity for the island’s economy. While it cut its revenue forecast for the year, it still foresees sales growing in 2023 while most of its global competitors are bracing for a downturn. 

Imports shrank 16.6%, the most in three years, leaving a shrinking trade surplus of $2.3 billion.