PH foreign trade up 9.9% in 2017

PH foreign trade up 9.9% in 2017

MORE ACTIVITY. Imports exceeded exports for the majority of 2017 resulting in a widening trade deficit. File Photo of the International Container in Manila by Jay Directo/AFP

MORE ACTIVITY. Imports exceeded exports for the majority of 2017 resulting in a widening trade deficit.

File Photo of the International Container in Manila by Jay Directo/AFP

MANILA, Philippines— The country’s overall foreign trade in goods grew last year as the country’s import momentum continued on the back of a growing economy.  

Total merchandise trade for full year 2017 increased by a rate of 9.9% compared to the 5.8% full-year trade growth seen in 2016 preliminary statistics from Philippine Statistics Authority showed on February 8.

Imports and exports posted 10.2% and 9.5% growth rates, respectively, which the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) noted exceeded the government’s full-year estimates of 9.0% for imports and 8.0% for exports.

For December 2017 alone, total trade grew by 8.6% with imports growing by 17.6 % compared to last year as all commodity groups registered increases while exports declined by 4.9%

The country’s trade balance, or total imports less exports, shows a record deficit of $4.02 billion for December 2017 as the trend of imports outpacing exports continued.

Imports totaled $8.74 billion in December 2017 from $7.43 billion in December 2016.

China was the top source of imports for the month at an 18.9% share of the total bill and a value of $1.65 bllion in what is an increase of 28.3% from the same month last year.

Electronic products were the most imported catgeory for the month at 24.6% of the total import bill  and valued at $2.15 billion. Mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials came in second at $1.18 billion, rising 61.8% from the same month last year.

Total export sales for month reached $4.72 billion in December 2017 against $4.97 billion in the same month last year.

NEDA noted the December export decline was the only decline recorded for the 2017 and the first decline since November 2016.

Hong Kong led the monthly list of top destinations for export with a total value of $789.61 million and a share of 16.7% of total exports in December 2017 up by 27.3% from $620.33 million in December 2016.

Electronic Products, particularly semi-conductors,  also continued to be the country’s top export with total earnings of $2.86 billion and a 60.6% share of the total exports revenue for the month.

“We need to effectively respond to market trends and consumer preferences worldwide to drive more demand for Philippine-made products,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement.

Pernia noted that export volumes may increase, especially for banana, coconut, and other agricultural produce, by negotiating tariff structures and implementing free trade agreements to bring down tariffs levied on Philippine agricultural exports in major export markets.

He also pointed out the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has plans to increase marketing for halal food, fashion, and textiles by helping the local halal industry to consolidate and produce better-quality goods. – Rappler.com