* July orders +12.4% y/y vs +3.7% in Reuters poll
* Orders from China +16.8% y/y; U.S. +22.2%
* Ministry sees August orders between +5.9% and +9.6% y/y
* Says work-from-home trend a boon for Taiwan’s tech goods
TAIPEI, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Taiwan’s July export orders grew at the strongest pace in two-and-a-half-years, surging on strong demand for telecommuting products, as the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people around the world to stay home.
The island’s export orders, a bellwether of global technology demand, rose 12.4% in July from a year earlier to $45.6 billion, Ministry of Economic Affairs data showed on Thursday.
The outcome far exceeded a 3.7% rise projected in a Reuters poll and a 6.5% increase in June. It was the fifth consecutive month of gains and the strongest since January 2018.
The ministry said the better-than-expected performance was helped by strong orders for products such as laptops and tablets, with overall orders in July reaching their highest on record for the month.
Smartphone orders alone jumped 29.9% from a year earlier, it said, adding the second half could be boosted by upcoming launches of new models as well as continuing telecommuting demand, though it warned the pandemic and trade tensions remain major uncertainties.
Taiwan usually sees strong electronics orders in the third and fourth quarter ahead of the year-end holiday season when vendors launch new smartphone models.
Huang Yu-ling, director of the ministry’s statistics agency, said the July figures were a “very special situation” that may partly be accounted for from pent-up demand as countries begin emerging from lockdown.
“The worst is over for this year. We should see a stronger third quarter than in the second quarter,” Huang said.
The ministry said it expects August export orders to expand between 5.9% and 9.6% from a year earlier.
Taiwan’s manufacturers are a key part of the global supply chain for tech giants such as Apple Inc.
July orders from the United States rose 22.2% from a year earlier, compared with 13.6% growth in June, while those from China were up 16.8% versus a 13% gain the previous month. European orders rose 18.2%, while those from Japan dropped 7.2%. (Reporting by Yimou Lee; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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