Lower exports widen PH trade deficit in March
MANILA -The Philippines’ trade deficit in March widened by 7.5 percent to $4.93 billion from $4.59 billion as the decrease in exports outpaced that of imports.
Preliminary data at the Philippine Statistics Authority show that the trade gap worsened as two-way traffic of goods in March shrank by 5.1 percent to $17.98 billion from $18.59 billion in the same month of 2022.
In March, export receipts decreased by 9.1 percent to $6.53 billion from $7.18 billion a year ago.
In the same months compared, imports decreased by 2.7 percent to $11.46 billion from $11.77 billion.
Miguel Chanco, chief economist on emerging Asian economies at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said that while the March trade deficit readout was wider than the consensus forecast among analysts—they predicted $4.4 billion—the other numbers were better than expected.
Chanco said the slump in exports in March was just half of the 18-percent contraction in February, which was also the consensus forecast.
He added that the easing of the downturn in imports to 2.7 percent from 11 percent was also unexpected. The consensus forecast was for the value of inbound shipments to drop by 11.4 percent.
“Base effects were particularly unfavorable for this report, so the improvement in both year-on-year rates is noteworthy,” Chanco said.
“Two-way trade ended what was shaping up to be a forgettable first quarter on an encouraging note,” he added. “To be sure, the comeback is far from over given the depth of the slump from November to February, and seasonally adjusted exports in March were still 16 percent below the October high.”
In March, electronic products remained the biggest export-earning commodity group, with $3.49 billion in receipts or 53 percent of the month’s total.
Completing the top three exports were “other mineral products” with $385.4 million (5.9 percent of total) and “other manufactured goods” with $351.17 million (5.4 percent).
Electronic products were also the country’s top import with a value of $2.34 billion or one-fifth of the total bill in March.
These were followed by mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials valued at $1.66 billion (14 percent of total); and transport equipment at $1 billion (8.9 percent).
—RONNEL W. DOMINGO INQ
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