(Adds comments throughout)
* Jan orders +5.2 pct, below +6.65 pct Reuters poll forecast
* Export order grow for 6th straight months
* Expected iPhone8, solid demand for Chinese phone boost
* Orders from China +5.5 pct, from U.S. +4.8 pct
By Faith Hung and Jeanny Kao
TAIPEI, Feb 20 Orders for Taiwan's exports rose
for a sixth straight month in January on strong global demand
for hi-tech gadgets such as Apple Inc's iPhones and Chinese
smartphones, bolstering the government's view that economic
growth could hit a three-year high this year.
The export-driven economies of Taiwan and many of its Asian
neighbors are benefiting from a pick-up in global growth, and
particularly in demand for electronics ahead of the upcoming
launch of the new iPhone 8 later this year.
Export orders expanded 5.2 percent in January from a year
earlier, though less than the 6.65 percent median forecast in a
Reuters poll and slower than December's 6.3 percent growth.
But analysts remained optimistic it would be a solid year,
with Apple leading a strong pipeline of new launches.
"Export orders should grow each quarter thanks to the launch
of the new iPhone this year," said Wang Cheng-hung, an analyst
at Cathay Financial Holding's fund unit.
Taiwan's export orders are a leading indicator of demand for
Asia's exports and for hi-tech gadgets, and typically lead
actual exports by two to three months.
Taiwan raised its 2017 economic growth target last week to
1.92 percent from a preliminary estimate of 1.4 percent in 2016,
citing expectations of stronger shipments.
Exports in January rose for a fourth straight month, though
momentum slowed substantially from the peak year-end shopping
season in late 2016.
Export orders in January from China and the United States
grew at a slightly slower pace than the previous month, but
still expanded at a solid clip, while orders picked up from
Europe and Japan.
The next generation iPhone 8 line is expected to be released
by Apple in the back half of 2017, while demand for
some up and coming Chinese smartphone brands is expected to
continue to improve both domestically and globally.
Economists at Nomura believe Asia's electronics parts
production may remain strong through at least the first half of
this year, with improvements in Chinese phones' design and
quality benefiting firms producing memory chips and displays
across the region.
However, while the new launches are seen boosting business
for Asian and global companies in those supply chains, the
outlook for Asian exporters also is being clouded by fears of
growing U.S. trade protectionism.
(Editing by Kim Coghill)