Total merchandise trade grew by 9.8 percent in September 2016, pulled by the recovery of exports growth to positive territory, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
Based on a report by the Philippine Statistics Authority, total trade grew to US$12.3 billion in September 2016 from US$11.8 billion in August 2016. Imports grew by 13.5 percent, while exports grew by 5.1 percent after 17 months of decline.
The growth of exports was due to upticks in all commodity groups, except forest products.
“Exports of manufactured products may continue to firm-up in the near term, possibly riding on the growth of the global industry sector, ” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.
Philippine exports for the period rose to US$5.2 billion as revenues from manufactures (4.8 percent), agro-based (24 percent), petroleum (71.7 percent), and mineral products (4.7%) recorded year-on-year expansions.
Most Asian countries also posted positive gains in exports for September 2016, pointing to a recovery in global trade.
“Recent developments in China and Japan, which are the Philippine’s largest trading partners in Asia, provide good prospects for merchandise trade. The steady growth of China’s economy is a welcome development, and the Japanese government also appears to be on track in reviving its economy,” the Cabinet official said.
Pernia also said that aside from lifting the ban on bananas, China has also announced its intention to buy more high-value commercial crops from the Philippines, like mangoes and coconut, as well as high-end fishery products like lapu-lapu, crabs and tuna.
Meanwhile, the double-digit growth of merchandise imports in August 2016 can be attributed to hefty increases in capital goods, which grew by 15.8 percent, and consumer goods, which grew by 47.7 percent. Payments for merchandise imports reached US$7.1 billion.
The NEDA chief also said that expected upticks in prices of petroleum crude may push up Philippine import payments in the near- to medium-term. The strong outlook of the domestic economy is also seen to prop up purchases of imported goods.
“Amid these mixed developments and with risks mostly on the downside, the Philippines will continue to focus on bringing Philippine exports to more diverse markets,” said Pernia.
“Along with our improved bilateral relations with China, the country will correspondingly maximize opportunities from existing free trade deals, most notably the recently signed Philippines-European Free Trade Association agreement,” he added.