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Taiwan export orders growth underwhelms on smartphones

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FILE PHOTO: Trucks drive near containers at Keelung port, northern Taiwan
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TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's export orders grew less than forecast in August on unexpectedly weaker demand for new smartphones, though the government said the demand outlook for the island's tech goods remains good. Taiwan's export orders, a bellwether of global technology demand, jumped 17.6% from a year earlier to $53.5 billion in August, data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs showed on Friday.

While that was the 18th month of expansion, the pace was slower than the median forecast of a rise of 20.7% in a Reuters poll.

Huang Yu-ling, head of the ministry's statistics department, told reporters that orders for new smartphones were weaker than expected, and fewer people working from home as pandemic lockdown rules eased also affected orders, meaning they needed to buy fewer tablets and laptops.

Taiwanese companies such as Foxconn and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) are major suppliers to Apple Inc, Qualcomm Inc and other global tech firms.

Apple unveiled the iPhone 13 and a new iPad mini last week, expanding 5G connectivity and showing off faster chips and sharper cameras without raising the phone's price.

Looking ahead, the ministry warned COVID-19 cases could pick up globally ahead of winter adding uncertainty to the economic outlook.

However, more consumer electronic products coming to market and "flourishing" demand for electric vehicles will help support Taiwan's export order momentum, it added.

In July, export orders leapt 21.4% from a year earlier to $55.3 billion.

The second half of the year is typically stronger due to high demand for electronics during the year-end holiday shopping season in Europe and the United States.

The ministry said it expects export orders in September to rise between 15.9% and 18.9% from a year earlier.

Orders from the United States rose 19.2% in August from a year earlier, a faster rate of expansion compared with the 16.5% logged in July, while orders from China were up 15.9%, versus a gain of 20.1% the previous month.

Orders from Europe increased 3.7%, while those from Japan were up 18.3%.

(Reporting by Emily Chan and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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