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PH trade down 12th straight month in Jan; imports sink 14.9%, exports slide 5.2%

  • Philippine total merchandise trade decreased 11.1% in January  2021, its 12th consecutive month of decline, as imports and exports were still down
  • Imports decreased 14.9% for the 21st consecutive month while exports declined 5.2%
  • The balance of trade in goods decline 30.9% in January 2021, faster than the 27.4% and 18% decreases in December 2020 and January 2020, respectively
  • Electronic products were still the top imported and exported commodity, while raw materials and intermediate goods remained the top imported and exported type of goods

The Philippines’ total merchandise trade decreased by 11.1% in the first month of 2021, its 12th consecutive month of decline, as imports and exports are still down, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Total external trade in January 2021 amounted to US$13.40 billion, a decrease from the $15.08 billion recorded in the same month last year.

Of the total, 59% were imported goods, while the rest were exported goods.

The balance of trade in goods, meanwhile, amounted to $2.42 billion, representing a trade deficit with an annual decline of 30.9%, faster than the 27.4% and 18% decreases in December 2020 and January 2020, respectively.

Imports in the first month of the year remained on a downtrend with its 21st month of decline. Imports in January 2021 fell 14.9% to $7.91 billion from $9.29 billion in January 2020.

The decrement was due to the decrease in nine of the top 10 major import commodities, which was led by industrial machinery and equipment (-36.9%). This was followed by transport equipment (-36.8%); and mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials (-33.6%).

Exports likewise contracted 5.2% to $5.49 billion in January 2021 from $5.789 billion in January last year. This is the second consecutive month of decrease for exports, which was down for eight months last year.

Of the top 10 major commodity groups in terms of export value, four recorded annual decreases, led by fresh bananas (-46.9%). This was followed by other manufactured goods (-12.8%); machinery and transport equipment (-11.9%), and coconut oil (-11.7%).

Electronic products remained the country’s top import and export in terms of commodity group in the first month of the year.

The group accounted for 29.6% or $2.34 billion of the total import bill, and 59.1% or $3.24 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 $3.20 billion or 40.4% of the total. Exports of manufactured goods also continued to have the highest share to total with $4.70 billion or 85.7%.

Imports of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies increased 33% in January 2021 to $24.81 million from the same month of the previous year. The growth was attributed to improvements in the import of surgical face masks, other face masks, testing kits, and protective clothing.

Exports of PPE and medical supplies likewise grew 11% to $2.72 million as exports of other face masks (non-surgical/non-medical masks including masks made of cloth) recorded an annual growth rate of 6,539.6%, contributing significantly to the increase.

By major trading partners, exports to the United States comprised the highest value, followed by Japan, China, Hong Kong, and Thailand.

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

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