April 11, 2019

The Philippine government remains firm in improving relations with trading partners to weather headwinds in the global export market, the National Economic and Development Authority said on the release of the country’s trade figures for February 2019.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that the country’s total merchandise trade grew by 1.2 percent, reaching USD13.1 billion in February 2019.

This growth was driven mainly by imports which grew by 2.6 percent, but tempered by the 0.9 percent decline in exports.

“In its effort to strengthen bilateral economic relations, the Department of Trade and Industry recently concluded dialogues with the UK, Hungary, and Czech Republic,” NEDA Officer-In-Charge (OIC) and Undersecretary Adoracion M. Navarro said.

The Philippines also signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesia that could open up the Indonesian market to Philippine agricultural produce, particularly bananas and coconut-based products.

The NEDA official added that more exports of agricultural products to Eastern Europe are also underway following the export promotion mission conducted by the Department of Agriculture and private sector representatives in Belarus.

“For the recovery in exports performance, facilitating easier movement of goods is crucial,” Navarro said.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) earlier issued a memorandum order temporarily banning importers, truckers, brokers and other port stakeholders from returning empty containers to ports, except those covered by a special permit.

Moreover, a joint administrative order is expected to be released this month, which will institutionalize measures to address concerns over high shipping fees and congestion in the Port of Manila and Manila International Container Port.

“While these are positive developments, further actions such as the optimization of the use of the country’s other major ports in Batangas and Subic, and streamlining the BOC’s processes are still necessary,” she said.

Navarro is OIC of NEDA while Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia is on official travel abroad.