MANILA – Philippine exports of electronics products showed signs of recovery in November 2015 but overall merchandise exports posted a slight decline, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

As the weak global economy continues to affect Philippine exports, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that exports fell slightly to US$5.1 billion in November 2015 from US$5.2 billion in the same month of 2014.

But with the continued recovery of export of electronic products, the decline was much slower, compared with the 10.8-percent decline in the previous month, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“Meeting our export targets has been very challenging as the global economy remains weak, which translates into weak demand for the country’s export products,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan. “Given the performance of the export sector in the first 11 months of 2015, the full-year target is unlikely to have been met,” he added.

From January to November 2015, total exports value fell by 5.8 percent or US$54.0 billion from US$57.3 billion in the previous year. Moreover, merchandise exports for the said period account for only 83.1 percent of the government’s merchandise export target of US$65.0 billion for 2015. “In order to achieve the full-year target for 2015, merchandise exports in December 2015 would have to register a total of US$11 billion, equivalent to a growth of 129 percent,” the NEDA chief added.

“But on the bright side, the Nikkei Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) output growth accelerated to a 20-month high in November, signaling solid growth in the Philippines’ top export market. Both production and new orders increased at marked rates, with the former expanding at the fastest rate since March 2014,” the Cabinet official said.

Also, the Philippines recorded the least export decline among the monitored economies in East and Southeast Asia for November 2015. Except for Viet Nam, most economies in the region posted lower merchandise exports.

For the said period, all key commodities registered double-digit declines except for manufactured goods, which posted a 3.6-percent year-on-year increase as shipments of electronic products continued to recover.

“The country’s positive performance in the sales of semiconductors bucked the international trend as worldwide sales were down in November 2015. Thus, the modest growth in exports of goods from the electronics and semiconductors segment is expected to continue propping up total merchandise exports,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.

Total export receipts from agro-based products were down by 23.1 percent to US$240.6 million in November 2015 on account of lower revenues recorded mostly from fruits and vegetables, as well as  as fish, unmanufactured tobacco, and natural rubber, among others.

The total value of outward shipments of mineral products also decreased by 25.3 percent or US$151.8 million in November 2015 due to lower earnings from copper metal and iron ore agglomerates.

Furthermore, exports receipt from petroleum and forest products plunged by 69.3 percent and 79.5 percent respectively in the said period.

“Although a slight uptick is anticipated in 2016 for exports, risks are skewed towards the downside as a more protracted slowdown across emerging economies could have substantial spillovers to other developing economies and eventually hold back recovery in advanced economies,” said Balisacan.

The Cabinet secretary said the country needs to diversify the products and export markets to mitigate the drag in exports performance. In light of regional economic integration, the country should also take full advantage of other export markets other than our traditional export destinations, he added.

“Moving forward, the government needs to continue to strengthen efforts to improve competitiveness of our local industries as the other ASEAN member states continue to improve theirs. A well-organized and coordinated mechanism that can provide negotiating experience, policy research and analytical preparation support, as well as physical and financial resources, will need to be institutionalized,” said Balisacan.