MANILA— Merchandise exports grew by 9 percent for full-year 2014 despite the 3.2 percent drop in December due to lower outbound shipments of manufactures, total agro-based, and petroleum products, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“Compared to other economies in the region, the Philippines’ full year exports growth performance was relatively strong despite the challenging external environment. This is a good indication of the growing resiliency of our sectors given that economies in the Euro area, Japan and China remain sluggish, causing regional trade flows to soften,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

Total revenue from Philippine exports declined to US$4.8 billion in December 2014 from US$5.0 billion in December 20l3. However, total sales receipts for the full-year 2014 rose to US$61.8 billion from US$56.7 billion the previous year.

As for the performance of major commodity groups, export earnings from manufactured goods posted US$ 4.18 billion in December 2014, down from US$4.23 billion registered in December 2013.

“This can be traced mainly to year-on-year declines in other manufactured products, wood manufactures and electronic equipment and parts.  Nonetheless, outbound sales of electronic products, machinery and transport equipment, garments, miscellaneous manufactured articles and chemicals remained buoyant,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.

Likewise, sluggish outturns in coconut products and sugar products pulled down revenues from total agro-based products by 24.9 percent from US$388.7 million in December 2013 to US$291.8 million in December 2014.

“While outward sales of other agro-based products reached US$81.7 million, higher by 10.2 percent compared to US$74.2 million in December 2013, decline in coconut oil exports drove outward shipments from coconut products to drop from US$145.1 million in December 2013 to US$79.5 million in the same month of 2014,” said Balisacan.

Moving forward, he also warns of a possible slight tempering in the exports sector in 2015 given weakness in China and Euro deflation.

“What could provide an upside support to exports is the continuing US recovery and possibly some respite from Japan, which may realize economic expansion towards end-2015,” said Balisacan.

Meanwhile, the PSA’s latest Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries (MISSI) report showed the manufacturing sector growing at 7.5 percent in 2014.

In December 2014, the Volume of Production Index (VoPI) and Value of Production Index (VaPI) also grew by 7.5 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively, owing to robust domestic and sustained exports demands for certain products and services such as printing, beverages, basic metals, wood, and wood products.

“The Philippine manufacturing sector is on a catch-up phase. Reforms undertaken thus far have helped the manufacturing sector get back on track to a higher-growth trajectory. Moreover, expectations remain high in the first quarter of 2015 due to brighter job prospects, stable prices of commodities, and higher household incomes,” said Balisacan.

The growth potential of the sector will be further harnessed through the effective implementation of the Manufacturing Resurgence Program (MRP) by various national agencies.

“The MRP is expected to rebuild the domestic production base and improve competitiveness through innovation in order to compete in the export market. In addition, the government needs to be mindful of infrastructure bottlenecks, and stability of energy supply likewise needs be ensured in order to foster a stable business environment,” he said.

Japan remains as the top destination of Philippine-made goods accounting for 21.2 percent of total revenues from merchandise exports during the period. The USA continues to be in the second spot with 14.1 percent share, and PR China with 11.4 percent.