Neda: Robust export growth in April on PH’s pivot to Asia
External trade in April rose 4.6 percent year-on-year to $11.663 billion mainly on a double-digit jump in exports supported by closer economic ties with Asian countries such as China, India and the United Arab Emirates, the government reported Friday.
Manufacturing growth as measured by the Volume of Production Index, however, slowed last April to 5.9 percent from 10.1 percent a year ago due to lack of election-spending boost unlike last year, the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) latest Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries showed.
Preliminary PSA data showed that merchandise exports jumped 12.1 percent year-on-year to $4.805 billion in April, while imports declined by 0.1 percent to $6.857 billion.
As the value of imports still outpaced that of exports, the balance of trade in goods remained at a deficit of $2.052 billion, although narrower than the $2.58-billion deficit during the same month last year.
In a statement, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia noted that “for exports, East Asia and the European Union remain the top destinations of our products, accounting for 62.3 percent of total export receipts.”
Last April, exports to East Asian countries climbed by a tenth while shipments of Philippine-made goods to the EU jumped 36 percent, state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) noted.
In particular, exports to China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan rose double-digits, offsetting the also double-digit drop in shipments to Japan, Neda added.
“We aim to deepen our engagement with our neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region to enhance trade and investment links,” said Pernia, who also heads Neda.
Pernia noted that Philippine exports to China grew 27.7 percent from October 2016 until April to reverse the 7.1-percent drop posted from January to September last year.
“Also worth noting is the tripling of exports to the UAE and India in April. This was the third month that receipts to the UAE tripled, and the second month for India,” Pernia added.
In April, exports to India and the UAE increased 204.1 percent and 286.4 percent, respectively, Neda said.
“We see an opportunity to strengthen bilateral ties with India as it becomes a major player in the global economy. Their large consumer base can be an important market for Philippine products,” according to Pernia.
As for manufacturing, Pernia said that “despite the slowdown at the onset of the second quarter, manufacturing output is expected to sustain its growth following anticipated increases in demand during the harvest season and the enrollment period in schools.”
During the month of April, manufacturing growth was supported by double-digit increases in the production of metals, oil products as well as transport equipment, according to Neda.
Moving forward, Pernia said “the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure program is anticipated to further increase construction activities in the country which will provide additional boost to the manufacturing sector.”
Economic managers last April unveiled the “Dutertenomics” thrust of “Build, Build, Build,” which they claimed would usher in a “golden age of infrastructure” by spending a total of up to P9 trillion on hard infrastructure in the next six years.
Doing so would raise the share of infrastructure spending to the gross domestic product to 7.4 percent in 2022 from the programmed 5.3 percent this year.
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