TAIPEI, Jan 20- Taiwan’s export orders hit a record high of $472.8 billion in 2014 thanks to robust demand for handheld devices including Apple’s iPhone 6, government officials said Tuesday.
The 6.7 percent rise over the previous year marked the highest growth since 7.2 percent in 2011.
The growth rate stood at only 1.1 percent in 2012 and 0.4 percent in 2013, as the economies of major trading partners such as China, the United States and Europe faltered.
“The latest figure indicates the strength of local companies in obtaining orders on the international markets,” an official at the economic ministry said.
However, the booming export order figures do not necessarily help the economy as nearly half of the orders are filled by overseas plants of local companies, mainly on the Chinese mainland.
Export orders — those filed to manufacturers one or two months ahead of delivery — are an indicator for the island’s export reliant economy.
Taiwan’s actual overseas shipments rose 2.7 percent year-on-year to a record high of $313.84 billion in 2014.
Export orders for information and mobile devices rose 9.4 percent from 2013 to $127 billion, the ministry said.
It did not identify brands but the official referred to the iPhone 6 as a major factor in the increase.
Robust demand for the iPhone 6 and rival Android cellphones also benefited microchip makers and other suppliers.
Taiwan’s Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn, is the world’s largest computer components manufacturer and assembles products for leading international brands including iPhones.
Media reports say local firm Pegatron Corp worked on the assembly of the new iPhone and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company — the world’s biggest contract microchip maker — manufactured its chips. Neither company has confirmed the contracts.
Orders from the United States rose 7.2 percent in 2014 from the previous year to $118.5 billion, while those from China increased 4.1 percent to $117.7 billion.
Orders from Europe came in at $91 billion, up 11.3 percent.