MANILA – Philippine merchandise exports declined by 1.8 percent in July 2015 mainly due to lower sales in total agro-based and mineral products, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that total revenue from Philippine exports settled at US$5.3 billion, which is US$0.1 billion lower than the total receipts recorded in the same period last year.

“The lower value of outward shipments can be traced to reduced exports of total agro-based products and mineral products, but was moderated by sustained strong performances recorded from manufactured goods, most notably electronics and petroleum,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

The value of total agro-based products fell for the sixth consecutive month in July 2015, declining by 24.5 percent to US$322.2 million from US$426.7 million in July 2014.

This is traced to lower exports recorded from all commodity segments, particularly fruits and vegetables, such as banana, coconut products, sugar products; and other agro-based products.

“Although agro-based exports account for only 5 percent of the Philippines’ total exports, its implication to the domestic economy is significant as the agricultural sector hosts a sizeable portion of the country’s work force. Measures to mitigate the impact of El Niño remain important in the near-term, which should include crop and/or work substitution programs,” the Cabinet official said.

Similarly, exports of mineral products contracted by 47.5 percent to US$228.7 million in July 2015 from US$435.9 million in July 2014 due to lower earnings from chromium ore and other mineral products.

These reductions in export values significantly outweighed the higher earnings from copper concentrates (27.4%), iron ore agglomerates (41.4%) and gold (2.5%).

Meanwhile, the lower growth in exports was moderated by higher overseas sales to the People’s Republic of China which grew by 24.1 percent.

Moreover, despite depressed oil prices, Philippine exports of petroleum products reached US$78.6 million in July 2015, up by 140.7 percent from the same period last year as exports to Malaysia (270.3%), South Korea (100.0%), and India (100.0%) significantly increased.

“Easing commodity prices worldwide could dampen export revenue prospects in the near term, and the outlook for semiconductor exports remains on the downside. Exports of semiconductors are expected to slow down in the fourth quarter of the year owing to weak orders from the EU, China and Japan,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.

“Thus, policies geared towards increasing domestic demand are essential to counter external weaknesses and to ensure that the country’s growth trajectory remains on track,” he added.