Domestic trade expands 47 percent to P390 billion in Q1

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
Domestic trade expands 47 percent to P390 billion in Q1
Stock photo of a peso money bill.
Philstar.com / Jovannie Lambayan

MANILA, Philippines — The value of commodities traded within the country posted a double-digit growth in the first quarter, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Preliminary data released by the PSA showed the value of domestic trade jumped by 46.7 percent to P389.42 billion from January to March versus last year’s P265.51 billion.

Almost all of the goods that flowed within the country were traded through water, while the rest were traded through air in the first quarter.

The volume of domestic trade also went up by 19.7 percent to 7.73 million tons in the first quarter from 6.45 million tons in the same quarter in 2023.

“The strong pickup in activity indicates robust economic activity,” ING senior economist Nicholas Mapa said in an email, noting the 5.7 percent gross domestic product growth in the first quarter showed robust consumption and an increase in government outlays.

John Paolo Rivera, president and chief economist at Oikonomia Advisory & Research Inc., said domestic trade value increased given the high cost of imports due to a weaker currency.

“Rather than importing goods and services from abroad, domestically produced goods are preferred as they are relatively cheaper than imported goods,” Rivera said.

According to Rivera, the increase in domestic trade is expected to continue in the next quarters due to weaker local currency until the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas intervenes to manage the depreciation of the peso.

“We can expect this sector to sustain the growth momentum throughout the year as the economy could get a boost from slower inflation and potentially lower interest rates,” Mapa said.

By commodity group, food and live animals accounted for the largest share of domestic trade at 57.8 percent or P225.08 billion during the three-month period.

This was followed by machinery and transport equipment at P73.97 billion (19 percent) and manufactured goods classified chiefly by material at P30.29 billion (7.8 percent).

When it comes to volume, food and live animals also had the biggest share in the first quarter with 3.46 million tons or 44.7 percent.

Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials placed second with 1.27 million tons (16.5 percent), as well as machinery and transport equipment with 0.72 million tons (9.4 percent).

Among regions, Western Visayas had the highest value of traded commodities with P223.33 billion or 57.4 percent of the total in the first quarter. It also topped the regions in terms of domestic trade volume with 3.05 million tons or 39.5 percent.

Regions with the most favorable domestic trade balance in the first quarter are Western Visayas (P193.68 billion), Central Luzon (P13.19 billion) and Eastern Visayas (P10.57 billion).

Trade balance is the difference between the outflow value and inflow value, with the positive value indicating favorable trade balance, and a negative value showing unfavorable trade balance.

Regions with unfavorable trade balances include the National Capital Region (-P123.58 billion), Calabarzon or Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (-P38.19 billion) and Caraga (-P18.34 billion).

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