Exports down 5.6% as slump continues
Carlo S. Lorenciana (The Freeman) - February 10, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Amid the continued sluggish global demand, Philippine exports fell three percent for the ninth straight month in December 2015.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported yesterday December exports amounted to $4.7 billion, down three percent from P4.8 billion in same period in 2014.

"The negative growth was mainly brought about by the decreases in six major commodities out of the Top 10 commodities for the month," PSA said in a statement.

Total exports in 2015 posted a 5.6 percent drop to $58.6 billion from $62.1 billion in 2014.

Weak exports were partly blamed for the slowdown in the Philippine economy last year, which grew 5.8 percent.

Earlier, Cebuano economist Fernando Fajardo blamed slower growth to the large gap in growth in the country's imports and exports.

"A faster increase in imports over exports reduces our net exports. In 2014 our net exports was negative P70 billion. Last year it went up to negative P294 billion," Fajardo had said late last month.

In a statement yesterday on the exports data, Economic Planning Chief Emmanuel Esguerra said: "Advanced and emerging economies continue to face difficulties. In particular, the slowdown in China due to ongoing structural transformation, as well as the contractionary fiscal policies in oil-exporting countries as they adjust to declining oil revenues, pose risks to the Philippine economy this year."

In December, electronic goods, which accounted for 54.3 percent of total exports, increased 6.4 percent to $2.5 billion.

Other export products registered decreases, namely: machinery and transport equipment that went down 17 percent to $261.5 million; woodcrafts and furniture that posted a 24.1 percent decline to $250.9 million; and other manufactures that fell 23.8 percent to $252 million.

Receipts from the country's top ten export markets for December 2015 totaled $3.9 billion or 83.8 percent of the total.

Japan remained the country's top export destination, followed by US, Hong Kong, China and Singapore.

As weak global demand is seen to continue this year, Esguerra noted the challenge is to be able to expand in emerging export markets such as India and Mexico and diversify product offerings.

"But on a positive note, the Philippines' major trading partners such as the United States, Japan and the Euro area are expected to post a slight recovery this year," he said. (FREEMAN)

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