May 9, 2018

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that the government should actively intervene in making Philippine exports more attractive to the global market to boost the country’s trade.

This follows the release of a report by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) that the country’s total merchandise trade declined by 3.4 percent in March 2018, as exports contracted and imports barely grew at just 0.1 percent from last year.

The value of exports fell by 8.2 percent, after a 26.9 percent growth in March 2017, on account of lower revenues from sales of manufactured goods, agro-based products, minerals and petroleum products.

“As evident from the slowdown in trade figures of Asia, and even negative performance of the Philippines, China, and India in the latest exports figures, the Philippine government should double its efforts in marketing the country’s export products to international consumers,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

On the other hand, imports continued its eighth month of expansion, but only by 0.1 percent as payments for mineral fuels and lubricants kept total imports afloat against declines in all other commodity groups.

Pernia said that short-term measures to boost trade may include providing government support to promising export products whose demand is growing apace.

“This may include easing of government regulation, strengthened market intelligence gathering in partnership with the private sector, and maximizing the opportunities of trade agreements and economic groupings particularly within the Asian region,” he added.

He urged the Department of Trade and Industry to continuously encourage exporters to innovate and improve export quality by providing more access to testing, certification and accreditation facilities that will facilitate domestic compliance with international quality standards.

Pernia noted that the government is working on increasing the share of Halal goods to 11 percent of total exports through the recent establishment of the National Halal Certification Scheme.

He also highlighted the need to intensify the efforts of the country’s trade missions abroad, including business-matching initiatives in order to create new markets for Philippine-made goods.

“Exporters need to be provided with updated information that would enable them to tap countries with a huge market base to diversify their markets and decrease their vulnerabilities,” the Cabinet official said.