Home » Ports/Terminals, Press Releases » Jan PH imports up 5.8% but exports down 1.7%

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The Philippines’ merchandise trade in January 2019 reached US$14.31 billion, a 2.9% increase from the $13.91 billion year-on-year largely due to the growth in imports, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

Imports rose 5.8% to $9.03 billion from $8.54 billion under the period in review.

The increment was triggered by the positive growth in eight of the top 10 major import commodities. These were: cereals and cereal preparations (82.5%); transport equipment (33.6%); miscellaneous manufactured articles (15.8%); plastics in primary  and  non-primary forms (11.1%); telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery (7.3%); other food and live animals (5.6%); industrial machinery and equipment (4.6%); and electronic products (4.1%).

The increase in January 2019 was also a reversal from the decline in December 2018, which was the first after the continuous growth of imports last year.

Exports, on the other hand, dropped for the third month in a row in January 2019, recording $5.28 billion or 1.7% lower than the $5.37 billion in January 2018. This was due to decreases in export sales of the five of the top 10 commodities, namely, electronic equipment and parts (-37.9%); metal components (-35.8%); gold (-33.3%); machinery and transport equipment (-24.2%); and other manufactured goods (-15.3%).

The country’s balance of trade in goods increased to a $3.76 billion deficit in January 2019, from a $3.16 billion deficit in January 2018.

The National Economic and Development Authority said the Philippine government should step up efforts to strengthen relations with trade partners to further increase market access amid easing global demand.

“The Department of Agriculture is currently in talks with Singapore, Russia, and Monaco for possible arrangements to increase Philippine agricultural export products to these countries,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said in a statement.

He said exporters are also strongly encouraged to explore opportunities in emerging sectors and to respond to increasing market demand for other non-traditional exports to broaden exports base.

“Also, the likely conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement this year will be a welcome development,” Pernia said.

The RCEP aims to achieve greater market access for goods, services and investments, and provide business-friendly and trade-facilitative rules for businesses and investors among its 16 member economies.

“The RCEP would significantly benefit exporters considering that its member economies – which include ASEAN countries, Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand – constitute a third of global output and more than a quarter of the world’s population,” he noted.

Meanwhile, imports growth is still seen to be constrained by the delayed approval of the 2019 national budget and the election-spending ban.

The importation of raw materials is likely to be affected by the holdback in the implementation of numerous projects under government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program,” Pernia said.

He noted that the economic team has formally requested the Commission on Elections to exempt at least 145 priority infrastructure projects from the election ban to minimize delays while mitigating its effects on economic growth.

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