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PH trade contracts 5.6% in Dec as exports, imports linger in red

  • The Philippines’ total merchandise trade dropped 5.6% in December 2020, the 11th consecutive month of decline
  • The balance of trade in goods in December 2020 amounted to $2.18 billion, representing a trade deficit with an annual decline of 26.4%
  • Imports declined by 9.1%, the 20th month in a row, while exports decreased by 0.2%
  • Electronic products stayed as the top import and export commodity group, while in type of goods, raw materials and intermediate goods were the top import and manufactured foods the top export

The Philippines’ total merchandise trade dropped 5.6% in December 2020, the 11th consecutive month of trade decline, as both imports and exports contracted during the period, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.

Total merchandise trade in December 2020 amounted to US$13.656 billion, down from the $14.463 billion posted in the same month in 2019.

Of the total external trade, 58% were imported goods, while the rest were exported goods.

The balance of trade in goods in December 2020 amounted to $2.18 billion, representing a trade deficit with an annual decline of 26.4% and slower than the 52.7% fall in November 2020.

Imports in the last month of 2020 remained on a downward trend at $7.92 billion, 9.1% lower than the $8.712 billion recorded in December 2019. This is the 20th month in a row of decline for imports since May 2019.

Five of the top 10 major import commodities declined last month, led by mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials (-50.8%); transport equipment (-34.8%); and industrial machinery and equipment (-21.7%).

For January to December 2020, imports fell 23.3% to $85.61 billion from $111.59 billion posted in the same period of 2019.

Exports likewise contracted in December 2020 by just 0.2% to $5.74 billion from $5.75 billion in December 2019. Exports were mostly down in 2020, except during January, February, September, and November.

Of the top 10 major export commodity groups, three recorded annual decreases in December last year, led by cathodes and sections of cathodes, of refined copper (-21.0%). This was followed by machinery and transport equipment (-11.1%) and gold (-0.5%).

For January to December 2020, exports amounted to $63.77 billion, lower by 10.1% than the export value earned from January to December 2019.

Electronic products remained the country’s top import and export in terms of commodity group in December 2020.

The group accounted for 28.9% or $2.29 billion of the total import bill, and 62.9% or $3.61 billion of the total export bill.

By major type of goods, imports of raw materials and intermediate goods still accounted for the largest share at $3.01 billion or 38% of the total. Manufactured goods also remained with the highest share to total exports with $4.98 billion or 86.8%.

Imports of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies in December 2020 increased 63.8% to $27.40 million from $16.73 million in December 2019. The growth was attributed to improvements noted in the import of protective clothing, surgical face masks, other face masks, surgical gloves, safety headgear, and testing kits.

Exports of PPE and medical supplies, meanwhile, surged 709% to $3.32 million in December 2020 from $0.41 million in the same month in 2019. The annual increment noted in the export of surgical face masks, which rose 209.3%, increased the total export value during the period.

By major trading partners, exports to Hong Kong comprised the highest value, followed by the US, China, Japan, and Singapore.

China remained as the Philippines’ biggest supplier of imported goods, while the other major import trading partners were Japan, US, Indonesia, and South Korea.

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