(Recasts, adds details, byline)
* Taiwan December exports +12% y/y vs +9.2% Reuters poll
* December imports +0.9% y/y vs +4.13% in poll
* Full year 2020 exports +4.9% y/y, hit record high by value
* Finance ministry expects January exports +19% to +23% y/y
* Ministry sees “stable growth” for exports in Q1
TAIPEI, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Taiwan’s exports rose in December for the sixth consecutive month and at an unexpectedly strong pace, boosted by surging global demand for the island’s tech products amid the COVID-19 pandemic and new technologies like 5G.
Exports jumped 12% from a year earlier to $33 billion in December, the highest monthly figure on record, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday.
Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a rise of 9.2% for last month, compared with a 12% jump in November.
For the full year, exports rose 4.9% to $345.28 billion, a record high by value for a single year.
The ministry attributed the growth to continued robust demand for electronics, driven by new technology such as fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications networks and telecommuting, as millions of people are forced to work from home globally.
Apple Inc, for whom Taiwanese firms such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd are major suppliers, launched in September its next-generation iPhone 12, with faster 5G connectivity.
The ministry expected exports to “grow stably” in the first quarter thanks to continuous demand for the island’s tech products and as Chinese manufacturers rush to receive shipments ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in mid-February.
Exports to China, Taiwan’s largest trading partner, jumped an annual 20.5% to $14.72 billion, also a record high, boosted by strong shipments of electronics and telecommuting products.
Exports to the United States grew 7.5% on year.
Taiwan could see January exports surge in the range of 19% to 23% on year, the ministry said.
Last month, Taiwan’s central bank raised its 2020 growth forecast to 2.58% from 1.6% predicted in September. It also hiked this year’s growth to 3.68%, compared with 3.28% seen at its last quarterly meeting.
December imports rose only 0.9%, against economists’ expectations for a 4.13% rise and a jump of 10% in November.
Taiwan’s manufacturers are a key part of the global supply chain for tech giants such as Apple and Qualcomm Inc. (Reporting by Roger Tung and Yimou Lee; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)