Philippines: Domestic trade jumps 47% in Q1

MANILA, Philippines — Goods traded within the country registered double-digit growth both in terms of value and volume in the first quarter of the year amid increased demand and business activity.

Preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the value of domestic trade rose by 46.7 percent to P199.72 billion in the first three months of the year from P136.18 billion in the same period last year.

In terms of volume, domestic trade grew by 56.7 percent to 5.34 million tons from 3.41 million tons in the same quarter in 2022.

Sought for comment, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort said in an email, the sharp year-on-year increase in domestic trade value and volume may have been due to the further improvement in the movement or mobility of workers, as well as local and foreign tourists across the country, which increased demand, production, sales, and other business or economic activities.

“The continued increase in infrastructure spending to five to six percent of GDP (gross domestic product) in different parts of the country (from less than two percent of GDP 10 to 20 years ago) also led to a corresponding increase in domestic trade or transactions,” he said.

In addition, he said the expansion of the biggest retailers, malls, real estate developers and other chains or businesses around the country, especially outside Metro Manila, led to more domestic trade activities.

The PSA said machinery and transport equipment had the biggest share of domestic trade value in the first quarter of this year at P68.24 billion or 34.2 percent.

This was followed by food and live animals valued at P51.10 billion or 25.6 percent, and manufactured goods classified chiefly by material at P28.77 billion or 14.4 percent of total domestic trade value.

When it comes to volume, food and live animals accounted for the bulk of domestic trade with 1.31 million tons or 24.6 percent of the total in the first quarter.

Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials came next with 1.25 million tons or 23.3 percent, and machinery and transport equipment with 1.04 million tons or 19.6 percent.

Of the different regions, Western Visayas had the highest value of traded commodities with P44.70 billion or 22.4 percent in the first quarter.

Central Luzon, meanwhile, led in terms of volume of traded commodities with 1.29 million tons or 24.1 percent of total domestic trade during the period.

According to the PSA , the domestic trade balance or difference between outflow value and inflow value was most favorable in the following regions: Central Luzon with P11.25 billion; Eastern Visayas with P10.65 billion; and Western Visayas with P10.35 billion.

On the other hand, Caraga had the highest negative domestic trade balance of P26.48 billion in the first quarter. This was followed by Calabarzon with a negative trade balance of P12.90 billion, and Zamboanga Peninsula with a trade deficit of P7.04 billion.

“For the coming months, further easing of inflation and eventually any corresponding easing of interest rates or borrowing costs or financing costs would help boost business or economic activities around the country, as well as the policy priority of no more lockdowns, going forward, would translate into further increase in the domestic trade data,” Ricafort said.