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Exports drop for 11th straight month in February

Earnings from outbound shipments fell 4.5 percent to $4.3 billion in February from $4.5 billion in the same month last year. File photo

Down 4.5% TO $4.3 B 

MANILA, Philippines – Merchandise exports fell for the 11th consecutive month in February on lower earnings across five major export commodities, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported yesterday.

Earnings from outbound shipments fell 4.5 percent to $4.3 billion in February from $4.5 billion in the same month last year.

The PSA attributed the decrease to lower earnings from exports of apparel and clothing accessories, chemicals, other manufactures, metal components and coconut oil.

The value of exports of electronic products, which comprised nearly half of total export revenues in February, rose 8.1 percent to $2.13 billion from $1.97 billion in the same period last year. Outbound shipments of semiconductors rose 12.3 percent year-on-year.

Other exports subsectors that registered gains during the reference period were copper and concentrates (35.4 percent), woodcrafts and furniture (29.6 percent), ignition wiring sets (13.3 percent), and machinery and transport equipment (10.9 percent).

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In terms of destination, Japan remained as the country’s top export destination with revenues amounting to $939.6 million in February, comprising 21.8 percent share to total exports for the month.

Other prominent export destinations include the US including Alaska and Hawaii, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Germany, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Netherlands and Taiwan.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said the strain on exports caused by the global economic slowdown would only persist in the short term.

“The export performance of most of the trade-oriented economies in East and Southeast Asia continues to reel from weak global demand that is largely influenced by the global economic slowdown. For the Philippines, we see this continuing only within the near term but it remains important for us to set up short-term measures that will support some of our export products,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA director general Emmanuel Esguerra.

Only Vietnam and Thailand posted positive export gains while China recorded the steepest decline at 25.3 percent during the period, he said.

“As softer external demand is expected over the near term, the Philippines should at least aim for a 5.4 percent growth in merchandise exports, which is the low-end projection of the Export Development Council. Short-term measures may include providing government support to export products for which demand is growing faster relative to other export segments and where the Philippines has an increasing market share,” said Esguerra.

Revenues from manufactured products dropped slightly by two percent to reach $3.7 billion from $3.8 billion in February 2015.

“The drop in exports of manufactured goods reflected the general slowdown experienced by the manufacturing sector around the world. But it is worth noting that overseas sales of our electronic products posted its ninth consecutive month of positive growth,” said Esguerra.

The Philippines, he said, must take this opportunity to maximize the benefits of its trade accord with Southeast Asian economies.

“While current global growth conditions remain tilted to the downside and will continue to affect exports in the short term, the Philippines must take advantage of the opportunity presented by an expected improvement in the economic growth of the ASEAN region,” he noted.

This is based on forecasts of growth forecasts in India and the ASEAN region “which would help balance the slowdown of China.”

Esguerra noted that several developments in the region such as the ramping up of investments in Indonesia and the Philippines, Vietnam’s continued expansion and Thailand’s recovery from a slump in 2014 would prop up growth in ASEAN to 4.5 percent this year, higher than the 4.4 percent growth estimated in 2015.

“This provides an opportunity for the Philippines to expand its export market in the region. And it is important to ensure that Philippine products conform to export standards so as not to lose market share,” he said.

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