Reports coming out of the Central News Agency (CNA) in Taipei Friday had Taiwanese shares opening at 11,721.16 – 3.93 points down – on a total turnover of NT$ 1.96 billion.
Worrying in itself, just a day earlier the CNA also reported that export orders placed with companies based in Taiwan fell sharply in January when measured against the same month in 2019.
In part a result of the earlier Chinese New Year vacations that started around the 20th of the month, and later the effects felt due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, January saw total exports plunge 12.8 percentage points to US$ 35.32 billion.
The 2019, Chinese New Year vacation period took place in early February.
A slight increase of 0.9% in the final month of 2019, had finally brought to an end 13 continuous months of falling export levels. At the time Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) attributed the year long decline to falling IT exports.
Orders for devices in the information and communications sector in January were particularly hard hit, dropping 17 percentage points from the same time in 2019, to US$ 9.7 billion as reported by the CNA, with EU and US orders dropping by US$ 1.2 billion of the total according to the MOEA’s statistics department.
The same department at MOEA in addressing the direct effects of COVID-19 went on to state that as the virus had a limited impact in January, a resulting decline in export orders in February may eventually see between US$ 3 – US$ 3.5 billion shaved off monthly exports when figures are released.