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Trade deficit narrows 9.3% in June

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s trade deficit narrowed 9.3 percent in June as import growth slowed while exports accelerated modestly, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said yesterday.

Total external trade in goods fell 1.2 percent to $11.97 billion in June from $12.12 billion registered in the same period last year after posting 10 months of positive growth since August 2016.

The country’s trade balance registered a deficit of $2.15 billion in June, down from $2.37 billion last year.

Higher outbound shipments of electronic parts and equipment, metal components, ignition wiring sets and machinery and transport equipment resulted in a modest growth of 0.8 percent in total exports to $4.91 billion last June from $4.87 billion in the same month the previous year.

Modest growth in Philippine exports with ASEAN (4.8 percent) and EU (3.9 percent) cushioned the decline in traditional markets such as US (-8.7 percent), Japan (-9 percent) and China (-2.4 percent).

Increased inbound shipments of pharmaceutical products, transport equipment, mineral fuels, telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery, meanwhile, caused total imports to drop 2.5 percent to $7.06 billion in June from $7.24 billion in the same month last year.

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For imports, growth in ASEAN (4.5 percent) and EU (0.5 percent) offset decline from the US (-8.2 percent), China (-3.7 percent) and Taiwan (-33.1 percent).

Socioecomomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said Philippine trade is expected to grow at faster pace within the second half of the year in line with the recovery of the global economy.

“We expect Philippine trade to recover, as the global economic recovery is seen to be on firmer footing in the second half of the year,” he said.

He urged traders to take advantage the country’s preferential status under the EU-Generalized System of Preferences (GSP+).

Pernia urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to continue its information sessions on “Doing Business with the EU using the GSP+” in key cities and towns nationwide.

“This will help businesses to comply with the requirements, such as rules of origin, and hurdle trade barriers, such as product standards,” he said.

The country is also in a better position this year as host of the ASEAN Summit to push for a reduction in non-tariff barriers in the region, said Pernia, noting that these have increased from 1,634 to 5,975 between 2000 and 2015.

Various think tanks and multilateral development institutions have identified the excessive use of non-tariff measures as a major hindrance to the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

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