MANILA— Philippine merchandise exports recorded a 3.1-percent decline in February 2015 on account of lower sales in agro-based products, manufactures, and petroleum products, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that total revenue from Philippine exports reached US$4.5 billion in February 2015, down from US$4.7 billion in the same period last year.

“Majority of the major economies in East and Southeast Asia registered negative export performance in February 2015, with only PR (People’s Republic) China in the positive territory. This partly mirrors the still fragile global economy, which is particularly reflected in the country’s weak turnout of merchandise exports on the back of lower demand from the country’s major trade partners, Japan and China,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

Among major commodity items that contributed to the lower exports outturn are agro-based products and manufactures, which recorded significant declines in shipments to Japan and PR China.

During the period, total export revenues from agro-based products contracted by 20.1 percent, driven by lower earnings from fruits and vegetables, sugar products, and other agro-based products. This amounted to US$327.0 million in February 2015, lower by 20.1 percent from US$409.4 million in the same month of last year.

Earnings from exported manufactured goods also declined by 1.8 percent recording US$3.8 billion in February 2015 from US$3.9 billion in February 2014. This is due to lower receipts from wood manufactures, machinery and transport equipment, and other manufactures.

“The recorded contractions in these manufactured commodities slightly outweighed the year-on-year gains in the value of electronic products, most notably of semiconductors, garments, and chemicals,” he said.

Similarly, lower export volume and the plummeting global prices of crude oil continue to drag revenues from petroleum products, which contracted by 51.5 percent during the period.

Meanwhile, mineral products posted a 7.1 percent increase in outward sales due to higher shipments of copper metal, gold, and iron ore agglomerates.

“While this strain and moderation in Philippine exports is expected and was noted last month, now is the high time to be vigilant,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.

“Forward estimates of manufacturing activity for both Japan and China suggest another slowdown in March. Global commodity prices also continue to decline, potentially reducing revenues from agro-based and mineral exports in the succeeding period,” he added.

In this regard, the Cabinet official stressed the need to diligently monitor potential external shocks that can negatively affect the country’s trade performance. The government will also benefit from intensifying its efforts in expanding its market base for agro-based products.

“Further improvements in infrastructure and logistics should also continue to support the export manufacturing sector. Likewise, concerns on the stability of power supply should be addressed,” said Balisacan.

Japan remained as the top destination of Philippine-made goods accounting for 20.9 percent of total revenues from merchandise exports during the period. The USA continues to be in the second spot with 16.2 percent share, and PR China with 9.9 percent.