PH exports post sharpest drop in nearly 4 years

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine merchandise exports fell by 17.4% in May, the sharpest drop since December 2011, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) announced on Friday, July 10.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that total revenue from Philippine exports reached $4.9 billion in May, from $5.9 billion in the same period last year. 

The Philippines recorded the largest decline of export revenues among major trade-oriented economies in East and Southeast Asia, it added.

NEDA Officer-in-Charge and Deputy Director-General Emmanuel Esguerra said   the latest export figures signaled a global economic slowdown.

“The recent outturn of Philippine exports, as well as in many Asian economies, reflects the general market outlook and consensus in the near term, signaling a slowdown of the global economy,” Esguerra said.

He said that the government should put in place mitigating measures as external factors are likely to continue to "constrain" the performance of the country's export industry.

Vigilance

Esguerra said this slowdown in global trade "due to the weakening of China as well as the fiscal crisis in the Eurozone will certainly spill over globally, although the magnitude of the impact remains to be seen."

"Policy makers should remain vigilant on the possible outcome of these external developments and how they may impact the trade competitiveness of the country as well as the domestic economy,” Esguerra said.

The NEDA official said that overseas sales of manufactured goods registered its largest monthly decline of 9.5% for the year, down to $4.3 billion in May from $4.7 billion in the same period last year. 

It attributed this to lower revenues from semiconductors, machinery and transport equipment, wood manufactures, electronic data processing, and other manufactures.

“Global output of manufacturing and services is currently weak, trending slightly above expansionary levels amid the lackluster global demand,” said Esguerra.

Revenue from mineral products exports fell by 66.5% in May, plunging to $209.7 million from $626.8 million year-on-year, due to lower earnings from copper metal, copper concentrates and other mineral products.

Export revenues from agro-based products dropped by 32.3% in May  a 13.4% year-on-year expansion in the same month of last year. 

NEDA attributed this to decreased earnings in coconut products, sugar products, and fruits and vegetables.

Mitigating measures

Esguerra also stressed the need for the "immediate" implementation of government measures to cushion the impact of external factors on the export industry.

“The Philippines’ export performance is likely to remain constrained by volatilities in the international markets triggered by the Greek debt crisis and the slowdown in China. Given that these external shocks cannot be prevented, government measures to mitigate the possible negative effects should be immediately implemented as warranted,” he said.

He stressed the need to strengthen support to the manufacturing sector in terms of  increasing its competitiveness and productivity; and to ensure safety nets for vulnerable workers.

Esguerra also said there should be a continuation of initiatives to support agriculture and its linkage with the manufacturing sector,  including infrastructure, financing, risk mitigation, and business-continuity and contingency planning

“As the external environment continues to be unfavorable and fragile, strengthening domestic demand should be a priority,” he said. – Rappler.com