PH exports, imports down at end-September
Amid persistent tension between the United States and China hurting global trade, the Philippines’ total external merchandise trade declined 2.2 percent year-on-year to $133.2 billion during the first nine months as both year-to-date exports and imports fell from levels in 2018.
The latest initial Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data released on Wednesday, Nov 5, showed that end-September export sales dipped 0.1 percent year-on-year to $52.6 billion, while importation dropped 3.4 percent to $80.6 billion.
As the value of nine-month imports fell faster than that of exports, the trade-in-goods deficit narrowed by 9 percent to $28.1 billion as of September.
During the month of September alone, exports of Philippine-made goods went down 2.6 percent year-on-year to $5.9 billion, ending the preceding five consecutive months of growth.
The value of imported products that entered the country in September fell 10.5 percent year-on-year to $9 billion—the fastest pace recorded during the six straight months of contraction.
In a statement, the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) blamed the lower September exports on “the decline in manufactured goods and mineral products” while the imports drop was due to “steep declines in raw materials and intermediate goods.”
As such, total two-way merchandise trade last September declined 7.5 percent year-on-year to $14.9 billion, while the trade deficit narrowed by 22.5 percent to $3.1 billion.
But Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said despite the decline in exports, trade with South Korea grew by double digits for three straight months.
Exports to Japan, he said, “showed a significant turnaround.”
“These export bright spots will pave the way for the country’s trade recovery over the near term,” Pernia said.
To survive the impact of the US-China trade war, he said the government “must sustain faster infrastructure spending” in the remaining months of 2019 to meet spending targets.
Pernia said “high impact and implementable infrastructure projects” under the “Build, Build, Build” campaign would boost transport and logistics that are “crucial in supporting the growth of exports.”
To achieve this, however, Pernia said the proposed 2020 national budget should be approved by Congress on time.
PSA data showed that among the country’s top export destinations, cumulative shipments to Japan, the US, China and South Korea increased year-on-year at end-September, bucking the decline in export sales to Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, Thailand, Taiwan and the Netherlands.
In terms of imports, nine-month receipts from China Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam rose even as those from Japan, the US, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan declined.
In September, China was the Philippines’ top trade partner, with total trade of $2.9 billion—$2.1 billion imports surpassing $780 million in exports to post a deficit in favor of China worth $1.3 billion.
In the case of Japan, the US and Hong Kong, the Philippines posted a trade surplus vis-à-vis these three countries that month, but registered a trade deficit with South Korea./TSB
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