Taiwan posts net fund outflow for 35th straight quarter
Central bank data for the first quarter released earlier this week showed the net fund outflow in Taiwan's financial account, which measures the flow of direct investment and portfolio investments, at US$14.65 billion in the first quarter.
The aggregate net outflow over the past 35 quarters was US$428.99 billion (NT$13.22 trillion), which is equivalent to 5.5 years of tax revenue in Taiwan, the data showed.
However, the first-quarter net fund outflow was less than the US$17.88 billion recorded the previous quarter, according to the data.
Meanwhile, in the January to March period, net securities assets held by Taiwan citizens overseas rose by US$15.70 billion from a year earlier, driven mainly by large investments in foreign bonds by life insurance companies, the central bank said.
The net securities assets of non-residents in Taiwan increased by US$2.93 billion year-on-year as they raised their holdings in local shares, while their net direct investments in the local market rose by US$840 million, the central bank said.
Net direct investments overseas by Taiwan citizens increased by US$1.47 billion from a year earlier, the data showed.
Addressing concerns that investors will keep moving funds out of the country and into U.S. dollar-denominated assets, the central bank said net financial account outflows are common among countries like Taiwan that have a long-term current account surplus.
Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Germany and Russia all tend to record net financial account outflows, the central bank said.
The current account mainly measures a country's merchandise and service exports and imports.
In the first quarter, Taiwan's current account surplus totaled US$17.09 billion, down by US$5.09 billion, or 23 percent, from a year earlier, as the country's exports dropped due to weakening global demand for information and communications devices, in particular, amid a trade war between the United States and China, the central bank said.
Taiwan's merchandise trade surplus fell by US$4.1 billion from a year earlier to a five-year low of US$12.43 billion, the data showed.
The country's services account posted a deficit of US$760 million, a drop of US$430 million from a year earlier, due mainly to an increase in receipts from professional and management consulting services, the central bank said.
The bank said its reserve assets increased by US$2.73 billion in the first quarter from a year earlier.