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Philippine merchandise trade fell 1.3% year-on-year in July, dragged mainly by a slip in imports. For the fourth month in a row, Philippine merchandise trade recorded a decline to US$15.74 billion from $15.95 billion in July 2018.

Imports in July 2019 dropped 4.2% to $9.57 billion from $9.98 billion in July 2018 due to decreases in nine of the top 10 major import commodities. These losers included iron and steel (-35.8%); mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (-14.5%); transport equipment (-12.0%); telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery (-2.4%); and industrial machinery and equipment (-1.5%). This is the fourth consecutive month of declining imports.

Exports rose 3.5% to $6.17 billion in July 2019 from $5.97 billion in the same month last year, as increases in export sales of eight of the top 10 major export commodities were recorded. Gainers included gold (81.8%); fresh bananas (34.6%); machinery and transport equipment (23.9%); electronic equipment and parts (18.9%); ignition wiring sets and other wiring sets used in vehicles, aircraft and ships (17.6%); other mineral products (7.9%); other manufactured goods (5.7%); and electronic products (2.9%). This is the fourth month in a row of increase for exports.

The country’s balance of trade in goods recorded a $3.39 billion deficit, 15.5% less from the $4.02 billion deficit in July 2018.

Electronic products remained the country’s top import and export merchandise among the commodity groups, recording a 25.7% share of the total imports bill and 55.6% of the total exports bill.

China was still the country’s biggest supplier of imported goods with a 23% share of total imports in July 2019. Other major import trading partners were Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Indonesia.

For exports, the US was the top trading partner, followed by Japan, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier attributed the external trade slowdown in part to ongoing trade disputes, Brexit-related uncertainties, and rising geopolitical tensions.

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