November 6, 2019

Government should take advantage of recovering exports to selected markets while also sustaining the improvement of infrastructure to uplift the trade sector, the National Economic and Development Authority said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the country’s total trade in September 2019 declined by 7.5 percent, as both imports and exports registered lower growth rates.

Exports dropped by 2.6 percent in September, dragged by the decline in manufactured goods and mineral products. The positive performance in major markets Japan, China Korea and Hong kong failed to offset the slide in earnings from the US, ASEAN, and the EU.

Meanwhile, imports contracted by 10.5 percent due to steep declines in raw materials and intermediate goods. This brings the three-month moving average growth rate of exports and imports for September 2019 to 0.6 percent and -7.8 percent, respectively.

“Despite the overall decline in export performance, our export trade to Korea posted double-digit growth rate for the third consecutive month and exports to Japan showed a significant turnaround from a decline in the previous period,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

“These export bright spots will pave the way for the country’s trade recovery over the near term,” he added.

Pernia also took note of the persisting US-China trade tensions which have escalated beyond tariffs, as the United States blacklisted certain companies and imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials.

The far-reaching and widespread cost of the trade war also finds its spotlight in the latest IMF World Economic Outlook, which estimates a near standstill in trade growth and a slowdown in growth in nearly 90 percent of the world.

“Moreover, the government must sustain faster infrastructure spending in the fourth quarter to achieve the target disbursement performance for the year. The push for high impact and implementable infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build program is expected to improve transport and logistics, which are crucial in supporting the growth of exports,” Pernia said.

He added that the timely passage of the proposed 2020 national budget is important to sustain the implementation of construction-related projects and activities.