9-month exports, imports down
Amid persisting trade tensions between the United States and China, the Philippines’ total external merchandise trade declined 2.2 percent year-on-year to $133.2 billion in the first nine months as both year-to-date exports and imports fell from a year-ago levels.
Preliminary Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data released on Wednesday showed that September export sales dipped 0.1 percent year-on-year to $52.6 billion, while importation fell by 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.
For 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.
In the meantime, the value of imported products that entered the country in September fell 10.5 percent year-on-year to $9 billion—the steepest drop recorded during the six straight months of contraction.
In a statement, state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority blamed the lower September exports to the decline in shipments of manufactured goods and mineral products. The drop in total imports, it said, was due to steep declines in raw materials and intermediate goods purchases.
As such, total two-way merchandise trade in 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.
“Despite the overall decline in export performance, our export trade to Korea posted double-digit growth rate for the third consecutive month and that to Japan showed a significant turnaround from a decline in the previous period. These export bright spots will pave the way for the country’s trade recovery over the near term,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.
“[Given] the US-China trade tensions which have escalated beyond tariffs, as the US blacklisted certain companies and imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials, the [Philippine] government must sustain faster infrastructure spending in the fourth quarter to achieve the target disbursement performance for the year,” Pernia said.
The push for high impact and implementable infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program is expected to improve transport and logistics, which are crucial in supporting the growth of exports, he said.
PSA data showed that cumulative shipments to Japan, the United States, China and South Korea increased year-on-year as of end-September, while export sales to Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, Thailand, Taiwan and the Netherlands declined.
Nine-month imports from China, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam rose while those from Japan, the United States, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan declined.
In September, China was the Philippines’ top trade partner, involving total trade of $2.9 billion—$2.1 billion in imports and $780 million in exports.
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