October 10, 2019

The government should redouble efforts to support export products where the country has comparative advantage so the trade sector recovers and picks up more steam, the National Economic and Development Authority said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the country’s total trade declined by 7.0 percent in August 2019 due to weaker exports and continued decline in imports.

“We must continue to initiate programs that provide comprehensive packages of support for products with comparative advantages, including related industries, to facilitate expansion in the international market,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

Trade exports registered a paltry 0.6 percent growth for August 2019 backed by the modest performance of agro-based products, forest and electronic products.

Meanwhile, imports contracted by 11.8 percent as major commodity groups posted declines in imports of raw materials, intermediate goods, and capital goods.

While serving to narrow the gap in trade deficit, the persistent decline in imports may be an area of concern as production in sectors requiring import components have also decreased.

“As subdued investments in emerging markets, coupled with the persisting trade tensions, continue to hamper global expansion, implementation of timely reforms will vastly improve the country’s resilience to external shocks,” the Cabinet official said.

Business models should also adapt to current demands and market trends by utilizing digital platforms that will increase production efficiency and expand their reach both locally and internationally

Legislations such as the proposed amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, Public Service Act, and Retail Trade Act would go a long way in improving competitiveness through much needed foreign direct investments and innovation,” said Pernia. Relatedly, the country should deepen its relations with our usual trade partners while actively seeking new ones.

“As the market turns its focus toward advanced and frontier technologies, the country’s human capital development should prioritize intensified reskilling, retooling and upskilling initiatives that emphasize industry and academe coordination, to ensure that the labor market is adaptive and responsive to current and emerging market demands,” he added.

Moving forward, the current updating of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2018 will seek to address the challenges of agriculture, industry and services sectors, among others.