Exports post steepest drop in 4 years
Merchandise exports posted their fastest decline in four years last September as the value of outbound shipments dropped 24.7 percent to $4.4 billion mainly due to weak global demand, the government reported on Tuesday.
Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan has thus urged that the Philippines “maximize the potential of free trade agreements” such as joining the United States-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to expand export markets.
The slide of almost a fourth in September—the fastest drop since September 2011 or at the height of the global recession—from $5.8 billion a year ago brought the total value of exports at the end of the first nine months to $43.7 billion, down 6.9 percent from almost $47 billion in end-September last year, preliminary Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed.
Except for the month of March, exports have been declining year-on-year every month since December last year.
“This mirrors a still sluggish external demand due to weak global economic activity and depressed commodity prices, which continue to strain exports growth,” the country’s chief economist said in a statement.
The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) noted that shipments of manufactured goods, which made up 87 percent of export revenues, fell by 23.6 percent to $3.8 billion last September from $5 billion a year ago. “This reflects the still weak global manufacturing sector, which can be traced to the sluggish final demand and ongoing inventory adjustments,” explained Balisacan, who is also the director general of Neda.
In September, earnings from agro-based exports went down by 29 percent to $251.8 million from $354.7 million last year on the back of “lower receipts from fruits and vegetables, coconut products, sugar products and other agro-products,” Neda said.
Shipments of minerals declined by 32.6 percent year-on-year last September, while those of petroleum products decreased by a hefty 83.7 percent to $13.7 million from $83.8 million a year ago.
Still, Balisacan said there remained “signs of a possible rebound” in merchandise exports during the fourth quarter on expectation of “better prospects in Japan, US and the Eurozone.”
Also, the Neda chief told the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Philippine Economic Society that services exports, especially information technology and business process outsourcing (BPO), were compensating for the continuous slide in merchandise exports. “If services exports remain robust, then that can weaken the effect of the decline in merchandise exports.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.