H1 trade deficit widens to $19.1B as imports soar, exports dip
The country’s trade-in-goods deficit further widened to $19.1 billion in the first half amid sustained robust growth in imports and a sixth straight month of decline in exports in June.
Preliminary Philippine Statistics Authority data released yesterday showed that the value of imported products that entered the country from January to June this year reached $51.8 billion, outpacing the $32.7-billion worth of merchandise exports or sales of Philippine-made goods overseas.
As such, the end-June trade deficit increased compared to the $11.7 billion posted in the same six-month period last year.
In June alone, imports climbed by 24.2 percent year-on-year to $9.1 billion, the fastest jump in six months.
Exports, on the other hand, fell 0.1 percent year-on-year to $5.7 billion, nonetheless the slowest decline since January.
In June, the balance of trade in goods widened to $3.4 billion from $1.6 billion a year ago.
The widening trade deficit brought about a deficit in the current account, a component of the country’s balance of payments.
Market concerns on the prevailing current account deficit had weakened the peso to 12-year lows, also putting pressure on the prices of basic goods and services.
But economic managers had said that as the Duterte administration embarked on its ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program alongside strong economic growth, demand for imports will remain strong in the near term.
In a statement, the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority nonetheless noted of a 13.5-percent growth in two-way trade in June to $14.8 billion from $12.9 billion in the same month last year.
From January to June, total trade amounted to $84.6 billion, up from $79.8 billion a year ago.
“Creating a broader market base for exports through effective trade facilitation and by effectively utilizing existing free trade agreements, as well as forging new ones, are important in improving our export market moving forward,” Socioeconomic Planning and Neda chief Ernesto M. Pernia said.
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