Exports down for 11th straight month
Merchandise exports declined for the 11th straight month in February amid a global economic downturn, while manufacturing rebounded during the same month on strong domestic demand, the government reported on Tuesday.
A preliminary report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the value of Philippine-made goods shipped abroad last February dropped 4.5 percent to $4.31 billion from $4.51 billion a year ago, with the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) blaming weak orders across major commodity groups.
The decline posted in February was the fastest in four months, bringing end-February total exports to $8.5 billion, down 4.2 percent from $8.87 billion during the first two months of last year.
“The export performance of most of the trade-oriented economies in East and Southeast Asia continues to reel from weak global demand that is largely influenced by the global economic slowdown. For the Philippines, we see this continuing only within the near term but it remains important for us to set up short-term measures that will support some of our export products,” Economic Planning Secretary Emmanuel F. Esguerra said in a statement.
“As softer external demand is expected over the near term, the Philippines should at least aim for a 5.4-percent growth in merchandise exports, which is the low-end projection of the Export Development Council,” added Esguerra, who is also the director general of Neda.
The Cabinet-level, interagency Development Budget Coordination Committee last February cut its total exports growth target, which includes services, for 2016 to 5 percent from 6 percent previously due to expectations of weak global trade.
Esguerra nonetheless said expectations of an economic recovery in Asean and India should be taken advantage of while China continued to slow down.
“While current global growth conditions remain tilted to the downside and will continue to affect exports in the short term, the Philippines must take advantage of the opportunity presented by an expected improvement in the economic growth of the Asean region,” the Neda chief said.
Exports of manufactured goods declined 2 percent year-on-year to $3.7 billion last February, reflecting “the general slowdown experienced by the manufacturing sector around the world,” Esguerra said.
“But it is worth noting that overseas sales of our electronic products posted its ninth consecutive month of positive growth,” he said, as PSA data showed exports of the commodity, which accounted for almost half of merchandise export sales, rose 8.1 percent year-on-year to $2.13 billion.
On the domestic front, the PSA’s Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries for February showed that manufacturing, as measured by the Volume of Production Index (VPI), grew 8.4 percent, reversing the 2.1-percent contraction a year ago.
The expansion in manufacturing activities last February was nonetheless slower than the 34.3-percent year-on-year jump recorded in January, a six-year high.
Neda attributed the growth in manufacturing to ramped up production of food products, furniture and rubber.
In the case of food, increased production was seen continuing in the approaching months as the dry spell due to El Niño was expected to weaken within the second quarter, Esguerra said.
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