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Economy

Taiwan exports still going strong after record-breaking year

Work-at-home demand driving orders for semiconductors

Demand for 5G-ready iPhones helped raise Taiwan's exports to record levels in 2020.  (Photo by Yu Nakamura)

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's exports climbed to record levels in 2020, with the pandemic-spurred global shift to working from home providing a tailwind that is expected to continue in the first month of the new year.

Exports from the high-tech Asian economy  -- home to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and other key links in global supply chains -- rose 4.9% from 2019 to $345.2 billion, the Ministry of Finance said Friday.

Rising demand for personal computers and tablets, coupled with the launch of 5G-ready iPhones and the much-awaited releases of new Xbox and PlayStation game consoles, kept plants humming at Taiwanese chipmakers. Semiconductors made up about 35% of the island's exports.

With new spikes in coronavirus cases around the world, demand is growing for devices used for home offices, lifting exports further in January, Beatrice Tsai, head of statistics at the ministry, said at a news conference Friday. Tsai said a year-on-year gain of 19% to 23% is forecast for this month.

December exports jumped 12% to $33 billion, hitting a single-month high and extending year-on-year gains to a sixth month

Mainland China and Hong Kong constituted Taiwan's biggest export destination in 2020, at a record $151.4 billion. Orders from Huawei Technologies continued to climb before the U.S. moved in September to restrict chip sales to the Chinese telecom-equipment maker.

Exports to the U.S. and Japan also rose to yearly record highs.

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