Exports recover slightly in March
Agro-based products, minerals and petroleum helped keep merchandise exports stable for March, slightly reversing the negative trend posted in the last two months, the National Economic and Development Authority said.
Merchandise exports grew 0.1 percent to $4.33 billion last March from $4.32 billion, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO). For the first three months of 2013, merchandise exports were down 6.2 percent to $12.1 billion from $12.9 billion in the same period in 2012.
Electronics exports dipped 22.4 percent year-on-year to $1.8 billion but trade experts still called it a recovery considering the 32-percent and 36.5-percent annual declines in January and February.
“The opening up of new markets combined with an uptick in demand from our key markets resulted in robust performance of our agro-based products, particularly for coconut oil, bananas, copra meal/cake fish products, centrifugal and refined sugar, among others,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, who is also director general of the Neda.
Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. president Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr. and UP economist Benjamin E. Diokno said in separate interviews that the Philippines should be reviewing its export targets. Philexport has set a 10-percent growth target for 2013 but even that would be hard to meet, they said.
“Export growth continues to disappoint owing to continued economic uncertainty in major markets. If export growth continues to be sluggish in the second half, the GDP target growth (of 6 to 7 percent) this year will be compromised,” added economist Cid L. Terosa of the University of Asia and the Pacific.
Receipts from agro-based products, which comprised almost a tenth of total exports, went up by 39.3 percent to $410.8 million in March. Exports of mineral products grew 71.3 percent to $228 million on higher sales of copper, chromium ore, iron ore and nickel. Petroleum and forest products sales were up 16.4 percent and 80.6 percent, respectively.
Growth in agro-based products, minerals and petroleum offset the drop in manufactured goods, which declined for the third consecutive month by 5 percent to $3.5 billion in March.
The shift from personal computers to mobile devices combined with sluggish shipments of semiconductors to China, Singapore, Hong Kong, United States and Japan resulted in the weak performance of electronic data processing and semiconductors, the Neda said.
Japan remained the top consumer of Philippine exports, accounting for 18.5 percent of total export receipts. “Electronic products, particularly components/devices (semiconductors), woodcraft and furniture, and bananas are the goods mostly exported to Japan,” the NSO said. The U.S. was the second-largest export destination with a 14.4-percent share, followed by China (13.2 percent), Hong Kong (8.5 percent), and South Korea (7.4 percent).
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