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Taiwan exports contract for fifth month in row

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- Taiwan's exports fell 11.6 percent to $24.8 billion in July from a year earlier, contracting for a fifth consecutive month amid weak foreign demand for the island's high-tech and other goods.

The Finance Ministry said Tuesday that imports declined 3.2 percent to $23.9 billion in July.

Exports to China fell 11 percent to $10 billion. Exports to the U.S. dropped 20 percent to $2.8 billion, following a sharp decline in smartphone sales by HTC Corp., Taiwan's top handset maker.

One bright spot was a 7.6 percent increase in imports of manufacturing equipment which might signal an increase in investment.

Exports drive the Taiwanese economy. The government expects GDP growth of only 2.1 percent this year, down from 4 percent in 2011.