The Philippines’ total merchandise trade continued to contract in August 2020, declining 21% to $12.33 billion from $15.61 billion in the same month last year as both imports and exports recorded declines anew.
The contraction is the seventh consecutive month of decline and was higher than July’s annual drop of 18.1%, according to the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
Of the total external trade in August, 58.4% were imported goods and the rest were exported goods.
Balance of trade in goods in August amounted to $2.08 billion, representing a trade deficit with an annual decline of 30.9%, which was slower than the 48.9% trade deficit in July but faster than the 16.5% rate recorded in the same month last year.
Exports continued to shrink, contracting 18.6% to $5.13 billion from $6.30 billion in August 2019. This marked export sales’ sixth month in a row of decline, and was attributed to the recorded annual decreases of eight of the top 10 major commodity groups. The commodity group with the fastest drop was gold (-31.3%), followed by electronic products (-20.1%), and fresh bananas (-19.4%).
From January to August 2020, exports reached $39.29 billion, lower by 16.6% than the export value earned from the same period last year.
Imports likewise remained on a downtrend, dropping 22.6% to $7.20 billion from $9.31 billion in August last year. The value of imports contracted for the 16th straight month in August, although the decline in July was higher at 23.8%.
The annual decrement of imported goods in August was due to the decreases in all of the top 10 major import commodities, with the fastest falls recorded for transport equipment (-50.5%); mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (-47.7%); and miscellaneous manufactured articles (-28.3%).
By commodity group, electronic products remained as the country’s top export, valued at $2.93 billion or 57.1% of the total. It also contributed the highest in terms of imports, valued at $2.27 billion or 31.5% of the total.
By major type of goods, manufactured goods had the highest share to total exports with $4.28 billion or 83.4% of the total, while raw materials and intermediate goods accounted for the largest share of the total import bill with $2.95 billion or 41% of the aggregate.
The import of personal protective equipment and medical supplies in August increased to $27.02 million, an annual increment of 27.7%. This, however, was lower than the annual growth of 113.6% last July and 161.3% in June, PSA noted.
By trading partner, Japan accounted for the highest value of exports, followed by the United States, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
China remained as the Philippines’ biggest supplier of imported goods, while Japan, US, Singapore, and South Korea were the other major import trading partners.