Exports, imports down in first half
Merchandise exports rose for the third straight month in June while imports contracted also for three consecutive months, auguring well for second-quarter economic growth.
Even as exports inched up during the second quarter, the value of Philippine-made goods sold abroad during the first six months declined 0.8 percent to $34.11 billion from $34.4 billion a year ago, the latest preliminary data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority on Wednesday showed.
Meanwhile, end-June imports declined by 1 percent to $53.12 billion from $53.63 billion last year.
Since imports continued to exceed exports, the balance of trade in goods remained at a deficit, but narrower by 1.2 percent at $19 billion in the first half from $19.24 billion a year ago.
In June alone, the value of imported products that entered the country dropped 10.4 percent year-on-year to $8.48 billion, the biggest decline so far this year and reversing the 29.9-percent jump posted during the same month last year.
On the other hand, goods exports rose 1.5 percent year-on-year to $6.01 billion in June, the fastest monthly growth recorded thus far in 2019 but still slower than a year ago’s 3.7-percent increase.
As such, the trade-in-goods deficit during the month of June slid by 30.4 percent to $2.47 billion.
Between January and June, the top three destinations of Philippine exports were the United States ($5.61 billion, up 9.7 percent year-on-year), Japan ($5.14 billion, down 1.8 percent) and China ($4.59 billion, up 7.7 percent).
First-half imports to the Philippines were dominated by Chinese goods, which at $11.8 billion accounted for more than a fifth of the six-month total and grew 14.3 percent year-on-year.
While imports from Japan and South Korea followed those from China, shipments from the two countries dropped 7.8 percent year-on-year to $5.01 billion and 20.4 percent to $4.31 billion, respectively.
“Despite the challenging external environment, the Philippines has shown resilience in its trade performance. The Philippines is among the countries in Asia with positive export growth,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement.
For Pernia, who heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), “considering the less optimistic global trade prospects, it is necessary to diversify markets and boost domestic demand to compensate for the weakness of external trade.”
Also, “in light of the current trade spat between Korea and Japan, we need to complete the negotiations for the free trade agreement with South Korea and review the decade-old Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement to further expand the country’s exports to both markets,” the Neda chief added.
According to Pernia, “the government has been fast-tracking the implementation of infrastructure projects under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program to enhance trade facilitation and provide logistical support to manufacturers and exporters.”
“However, only 11 of 38 Neda board-approved project proposals out of the 75 infrastructure flagship projects are now in the construction phase. Further speeding up the rollout of approved projects and processing of those in the flagship list are called for to boost government spending to provide needed stimulus to economic growth,” Pernia said.
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