Trade gap widens as import surge continues
The trade-in-goods deficit in September widened to the biggest so far this year as imports sustained a double-digit jump while exports declined, putting further pressure on the peso.
The country’s chief economist said he expected the entry of imported goods to continue on the back of strong manufacturing and investment flows.
Preliminary Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data released Wednesday showed that merchandise exports in September dropped 2.6 percent year-on-year to $5.83 billion as shipments of the following commodities declined: coconut oil (down 36.4 percent), machinery and transport equipment (down 30.4 percent), ignition wiring set used in vehicles, aircraft and ships (down 4.6 percent), other manufactured goods (down 4.2 percent), gold (down 2 percent) and electronic equipment (down 0.6 percent).
Meanwhile, imports climbed 26.1 percent year-on-year to $9.75 billion in September, making it the sixth straight month that growth jumped double-digits.
The PSA said the following import commodities grew strongly that month: cereals (up 101.4 percent), iron and steel (49.5 percent), miscellaneous manufactured articles (40.2 percent), transport equipment (32.3 percent), plastics (up 31.9 percent), electronics (29.5 percent), telecommunication equipment (20.5 percent), mineral fuels (19.3 percent), industrial machinery and equipment (17.3 percent) and other food and live animals (15.7 percent).
As such, the balance of trade in September remained at a deficit of $3.93 billion, wider than the $1.75 billion a year ago.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia noted that capital goods imports rose 25.4 percent that month, bringing the end-September tally to more than $26 billion, or almost a third of total imports during the nine-month period.
“Philippine import payments are seen to remain elevated until 2019, primarily due to imports of capital goods and raw materials to sustain the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure and manufacturing resurgence programs,” the National Economic and Development Authority chief added.
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