Philippines: Trade deficit narrows to $3.4 B in July

As Exports Rise For 4th Straight Month

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s trade deficit narrowed to $3.39 billion in July as exports rose and imports of goods crucial to production fell, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said yesterday.

Total external trade in goods in July fell by 1.3 percent to $15.74 billion from $15.95 billion in the same month last year. Out of the total, $6.17 billion were exported goods and $9.57 billion were imports.

This brought the trade gap 15.5 percent lower than the $4.02 billion deficit seen in July 2018.

Export sales in July 2019 rose by 3.5 percent from $5.97 billion in July 2018, attributable to the increases in outbound shipments of eight of the country’s top 10 export products.

These were gold, fresh bananas, machinery and transport equipment, electronic equipment and parts, ignition wiring sets, other mineral products, other manufactured products and electronic products.

This marked the fourth consecutive month exports registered growth.

Imports, meanwhile, fell by 4.2 percent in July 2019 from $9.98 billion in July 2018 attributable to lower inbound shipments of iron and steel; mineral fuels and lubricants; transport equipment; telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery; and industrial machinery and equipment.

It was also the fourth straight month that imports contracted.

By major types of goods, exports of manufactured goods, which accounted for 84 percent of total outbound shipments in July, rose by 4.2 percent year-on-year to $18 billion.

Meanwhile, imports of raw materials and intermediate goods, which had the largest share in inbound shipments (36 percent of total), fell by 11.7 percent to $3.45 billion in July 2019 from $3.90 billion in July 2018.

In July, Philippine exporters shipped out the most goods to the US with a total value of $1.04 billion or a share of 16.9 percent to total outbound shipments during the month. Exports to this country grew by 8.9 percent, from $959.68 million in July 2018.

Other major export trading partners were Japan, $934.62 million; People’s Republic of China, $860.19 million; Hong Kong, $842.90 million; and Singapore, $319.69 million.

China was the country’s largest supplier of imported goods in July with inbound shipments making up 23 percent of imports. Import payments from this country rose to $2.20 billion from $1.91 billion in July 2018.

Other major import trading partners during the month were Japan, $915.14 million; Korea, $794.17 million; Singapore, $701.40 million; and Indonesia, $638.87 million.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Philippine exports during the period was the third fastest-growing in selected Asian countries, following Thailand and Vietnam.

As lower imports of manufacturing inputs were seen in July, NEDA said there is still optimism for the manufacturing sector amid the reduction in global oil prices, recent cuts in power rates and lower import cost because of the appreciation of the peso.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said building strategic relationships with key trading partners, as well as boosting the competitiveness of agriculture and manufacturing sectors must be prioritized for Philippine trade to withstand global challenges.