MANILA— Philippine exports grew by 6.9 percent in May 2014 and overall outlook for the rest of the year continues to be upbeat, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), an attached agency of NEDA, reported today that total revenues from exports rose to US$5.5 billion during the period from US$5.1 billion or 4.1 percent in May 2013.

To date, total exports increased by 5.8 percent from US$23.0 billion in the same period last year to US$24.4 billion.

Stronger sales in minerals, manufactures, total agro-based, and forest products propelled the growth in merchandise exports by 6.9 percent. Revenues from mineral products grew by 58.0 percent, from US$395.6 million in May 2013 to US$625.0 million in May 2014 mainly due to increased shipment to the People’s Republic of China (PR China), Japan, and Switzerland.

Similarly, overseas sales of manufactured goods expanded by 3.3 percent to US$4.2 billion in May 2014 from US$4.1 billion in May 2013.

“The positive outturn in the manufactured segment of the export industry during the period, a reversal from the 3.2 percent year-on-year contraction in May 2013, was broadly in line with a stronger global manufacturing activity,” said Emmanuel F. Esguerra, NEDA Deputy Director-General and currently Officer in Charge.

Total agro-based exports also picked up its pace in May 2014 as revenues increased to US$450.9 million during the period from US$380.8 million in May 2013. Major contributors to this growth were coconut products, fruits and vegetables, and other agro-based products.

Export revenues from coconut products posted a significant growth of 31.1 percent in May 2014 mainly due to higher international prices. But the volume of shipments in coconut products fell due to the natural slowdown in copra production, as well as the long-term negative impact of Typhoon Yolanda in coconut-producing areas and the effect of the coconut scale insect (CSI).

“On fruits and vegetables, higher volumes of bananas were shipped to major markets such as Japan, PR China, South Korea, Kuwait, and Iran. The rehabilitation of banana plantations damaged during Typhoon Pablo in December 2012 also significantly improved supply conditions which supported the exports growth of the said commodity group,” he added.

Forest products also posted a positive growth of 34.2 percent during the period.

“However, while overall export outlook for the year is positive, sales in total agro-based exports may decline due to the adverse impact of a possibly prolonged dry spell in the coming months,” said Esguerra. Other contributory factors include negative outturns in shipments of coconut products.

Along this line, the NEDA official reiterated that to attain the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) Midterm Update FY 2014 target of US$69.0 billion, policies should remain supportive of higher exports growth.

“In the short-term, efforts must be intensified to help the areas vulnerable to the adverse impact of a prolonged dry spell. Measures to contain the spread of coconut scale insect (CSI) must also be stepped up. Moreover, the capacities of exporters to improve product quality and packaging in line with internationally-accepted standards and practices must be enhanced,” said Esguerra.

“In the long term, to ensure the sustainability of manufacturing exports, the government needs to intensify the Industry Roadmapping Project. This includes the on-going Manufacturing Resurgence Program, complemented by continuing measures to improve the country’s business climate, as well as to increase overall productivity and innovative capacity,” he added.

Esguerra also reiterated the pressing need to address the overhanging issue concerning power.

Japan remains as the country’s top export market with a total value of US$1.12 billion, accounting for 20.4 percent of our total revenues from merchandise exports during the period.

This is followed by the PR China with a 17.5 percent share and the USA with 13.7 percent.

DDG Esguerra is the OIC of the NEDA Secretariat while Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan is on official business abroad from July 7 to 13, 2014.