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Neda chief Pernia says ‘still manageable’

Trade deficit breaches $20-B mark at end-July

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 04:04 PM September 11, 2018
Ernesto Pernia

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia. INQUIRER file photo / JOAN BONDOC

The trade-in-goods deficit further widened to $22.49 billion at the end of the first seven months as the sustained imports jump outpaced exports recovery in July.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the Inquirer that even as the balance of trade in goods stayed at a deficit and breached the $20-billion mark as of July, the level was “still manageable enough.”

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Imports from January to July climbed 15.7 percent to $61.234 billion from $52.923 billion a year ago, the latest preliminary Philippine Statistics Authority data released Tuesday showed.

In July alone, the value of imported goods that entered the country surged 31.6 percent year-on-year to $9.397 billion.

On the other hand, end-July merchandise exports declined 2.8 percent to $38.744 billion from $39.869 billion last year.

The seven-month exports figure remained lower year-on-year even as shipments of Philippine-made goods abroad inched up 0.3 percent last July to $5.851 billion.

As such, the trade-in-goods deficit during the month of July almost tripled to $3.546 billion from $1.305 billion a year ago.

The end-July goods trade deficit was 72.3-percent bigger than the $13.055 billion posted last year.

The prevailing trade deficit resulted into a current account deficit as more dollars were being spent for importation.

Market concerns on the current account deficit weakened the peso to nearly 13-year low levels.

In turn, the weak domestic currency also put pressure on the prices of basic commodities, such that inflation hit over nine-year highs this year.

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Economic managers had said that as the Duterte administration embarks on its ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program alongside expectations of robust economic growth, demand for imports of mostly capital goods would remain strong in the near term.

Last year, amid a surge in imports that resulted in a record-high trade-in-goods deficit of $29.8 billion, the current account deficit ballooned to $2.5 billion, the biggest since 1999. /jpv

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