Exports continue slide
Merchandise exports slid for the third straight month while imports recovered in January, even as the country’s chief economist expected importation of mostly raw and capital goods for the Duterte administration’s ambitious infrastructure program to slow as the government continued to operate on a reenacted budget.
Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data released Tuesday showed that shipments of Philippine-made goods overseas fell 1.7 percent year-on-year to $5.28 billion in January, extending the exports decline since November.
The drop in exports at the start of the year was mainly due to double-digit contraction in the following commodities: electronic equipment and parts (37.9 percent); metal components (35.8 percent); gold (33.3 percent); machinery and transport equipment (24.2 percent), and other manufactured goods (15.3 percent).
In contrast, the value of imported goods that entered the country in January grew 5.8 percent year-on-year to $9.03 billion, reversing the 9.4-percent decline last December.
Imports of cereals and cereal preparations jumped 82.5 percent in January; transport equipment, up 33.6 percent; miscellaneous manufactured articles, up 15.8 percent; plastics, up 11.1 percent; telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery, up 7.3 percent; other food and live animals, up 5.6 percent; industrial machinery, up 4.6 percent, and electronic products, up 4.1 percent.
As imports exceeded exports, the balance of trade in goods remained at a deficit of $3.76 billion in January, 18.8-percent wider than the $3.16 billion posted during the same month last year.
But in a statement, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the importation of raw materials was likely to be affected by the holdback in the implementation of numerous projects under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program, the Duterte administration’s massive infrastructure push.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III earlier said the delayed approval of the P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget would cost the government P46 billion in projects and programs that could not be implemented during the first quarter.
To ease the impact of the reeenacted budget on Build, Build, Build, the economic team last month asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to exempt at least 145 ongoing and new infrastructure projects from the spending ban ahead of the May 13 midterm polls.
As for the declining exports, Pernia said the government was looking forward to the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement between Asean and its six trading partners, which was expected to “significantly benefit” exporters.
Also, “the Department of Agriculture is in talks with Singapore, Russia and Monaco for possible arrangements to increase Philippine agricultural export products to these countries,” he added.
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