Philippines: Trade deficit widens in Feb

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s trade deficit widened 56.5 percent to $1.728 billion in February from $1.104 billion a year ago  as manufacturing and consumption-related imports outpaced exports during the month, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

Imports  grew 20.3 percent to $6.511 billion in February on increased inbound shipments of the following goods: mineral fuels; iron and steel; cereals and cereal preparations, plastics, transport equipment, electronic products, as well as food and live animals.

Export sales, meanwhile, rose 11 percent in February to $4.782 billion, up from $4.310 billion in the same period last year. Growth was brought about by increased outbound shipments of cathodes and sections of cathodes, mineral products, coconut oil, electronic equipment and parts, metal components and chemicals.

Total trade merchandise trade rose 16.1 percent year-on-year in February to $11.293 billion.

“We see this as a strong follow-through to the 14.2 percent growth of total Philippine trade recorded in January, keeping our country’s economy on track in sustaining its momentum of growth,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.

He said the growth in exports during the period was driven by higher exports to East Asian countries such as Hong Kong and China, which grew 66 percent and 24.7 percent, respectively and Southeast Asian economies that rose 18.8 percent.

“This is a good sign that the country is forging stronger connections with its Asian neighbors,” he said.

He noted the double-digit growth in merchandise trade in the first two months of the year as well as greater engagement in the region will give the Philippines an opportunity to expand its market.

“The performance of trade in the first two months of the year is a good indication that we are on an upward trajectory. With ASEAN chairmanship and China’s rebalancing to a more consumer-oriented growth, the Philippines is expected to have expansions in terms of products and markets,” said Pernia.

He added that to ensure the sustainability of this growth, it should be balanced with efforts to improve the competitiveness of the country’s exports.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/business/2017/04/13/1690214/trade-deficit-widens-feb