UPDATE 1-Taiwan's sizzling export order pace slows, but demand still strong

(Recasts, adds details)

* May orders +34.5% y/y vs +40.15% in Reuters poll

* Orders from China +40% y/y; U.S. +28.1% y/y

* Ministry sees June orders rising between +28.1% and +31.7% y/y

* Ministry sees strong outlook as global economy recovers

TAIPEI, June 21 (Reuters) - Taiwan’s May export orders grew less sharply than expected but the government said the outlook for the island’s tech goods remains strong on sustained demand for telecommuting products during lockdowns worldwide to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demand for smartphones from technology firms such as Apple Inc also fuelled orders, but was not as strong as had been expected.

Taiwan’s export orders, a bellwether of global technology demand, jumped 34.5% from a year earlier to $52.29 billion in May, data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs showed on Monday.

That was the 15th month of expansion but the pace was slower than the median forecast of a rise of 40.15% in a Reuters poll.

The ministry attributed the strong performance to robust demand for smartphones, tablets and electronics parts for the automotive sector, which has been suffering from a global shortage of chips.

In April, export orders surged 42.6% from a year earlier to $54.93 billion.

Ministry official Huang Yu-ling said May’s growth rate underperformed expectations because of raw material shortages affecting orders for laptops and a slower pace of people exchanging old mobile phones for new ones, though demand still grew.

Taiwan companies such as Foxconn and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) are key suppliers to Apple.

Looking ahead, the ministry said the global economy and trade were “gradually returning to the right track”, with countries accelerating their vaccination programmes, and demand for 5G and auto electronics expected to be especially strong.

The ministry expects export orders in June to rise between 28.1% and 31.7% from a year earlier.

U.S. orders in May jumped 28.1% from a year earlier, a slower rate of expansion compared with the 43% logged in April, while orders from China were up 40%, versus a gain of 40.5% the previous month.

European orders rose 20.9%, while those from Japan were up 41.3%. (Reporting by Jeanny Kao and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)