Freeman Cebu Business

Exports down 15.1% in March

Carlo S. Lorenciana - Pilipino Star Ngayon

CEBU, Philippines - Philippine exports saw its biggest drop in six months in March, the Philippine Statistics reported yesterday.

Exports in March totaled $4.6 billion, down 15.1 percent from $5.4 billion in the same period last year. Exports are on the 12th consecutive month of decline since April 2015.

 The National Economic and Development Authority yesterday reiterated call for the Philippines to look at non-traditional export markets and products to widen market base as the weak global economy continues to pull down exports.

 "It's a necessary step in the midst of a challenging global economy. The country's challenging traditional trade partners continue to post subdued growth, global trade is not expected to pick up soon, and China's slowdown is impinging upon overall growth in emerging economies," Economic Planning Chief Emmanuel Esguerra said in a statement.

 The Philippines posted saw the steepest drop during the month among other Asian economies. Vietnam, China and Thailand posted export gains.

 Lower revenues from several trading partners also dragged exports.

 In the first quarter of 2016, exports amounted to $13.1 billion, down 8.4 percent from $14.3 billion last year.

 Esguerra said: “To be able to reach out to other potential export markets and sell our products, it is crucial to ease government regulation and strengthen market intelligence gathering in partnership with the private sector. We also need to maximize the opportunities in trade agreements and economic groupings particularly within the ASEAN region.”

 Esguerra, who is also NEDA chief, said Philippine exports need to grow by at least 8.3 percent in the next three quarters to hit low-end of the 5.4-percent 2016 growth projection of Export Development Council.

 In March, earnings from manufactured goods also dropped 11.1 percent to $4 billion from $4.5 billion last year.

 "This is a reflection of a general slowdown in the global manufacturing sector," he noted. "On the upside, wood manufactures, and iron and steel posted positive growth rates in March 2016. Electronic exports also reached its tenth consecutive month of positive growth during the period." (FREEMAN)

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