MANILA— Philippine merchandise exports continue to post double-digit growth at 10.5 percent in August 2014, maintaining the country’s position among the top performers in East and Southeast Asia, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported today that total export receipts totaled US$5.5 billion during the period, up from US$5.0 billion in August 2013 due to stronger outward sales of manufactures, total agro-based, and mineral products.

For the first eight months of 2014, total exports increased by 9.2 percent from US$37.3 billion in the same period last year to US$40.7 billion. This placed the country as the third highest exports performer in East and Southeast Asia, following Vietnam (12.6%) and Indonesia (10.6%).

“Manufactures remained as the major contributor to exports growth, reflecting the positive developments in the global manufacturing sector,” said Emmanuel F. Esguerra, NEDA Deputy Director-General and currently Officer in Charge.

The PSA reported that export earnings from manufactured goods reached US$ 4.4 billion, up by 8.4 percent from US$4.1 billion registered in August 2013.

Esguerra noted that the performance of manufactures was mainly due to increased outbound sales in diverse commodities. Electronic products remain on top of the list, with their total sales receipts amounting to US$2.3 billion in August 2014, higher by 10.0 percent compared to US$2.1 billion in August 2013.

The PSA’s Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries (MISSI) report also noted higher production indices of intermediate and capital goods, as well as higher net sales indices both in terms of volume (5.6%) and value (3.3%) in August 2014.

“The report shows that the manufacturing sector is moving towards more diversification and that there is a continued strong local demand for manufactured goods and improvement in export demand. In fact, the fast approaching holiday season is also expected to beef up the sector’s production, as we anticipate an increase in demand from both the local and external consumers,” said Esguerra.

Apart from manufactures, total agro-based products also managed to sustain its robust growth in August 2014, with their export value reaching US$505.2 million, or up by 41.0 percent from US$358.4 million in the same period last year.

“This is attributed to higher domestic production of coconut products, as the industry bounced back from a two-month volume shipment slump in June and July 2014. Accounting for about 53.2 percent of total agro-based exports, outward shipments of coconut products grew by a hefty 124.0 percent, likewise benefitting from higher international prices during the period,” said Esguerra.

Revenues from mineral products also grew by 30.9 percent, mainly due to increased shipments of iron ore agglomerates, copper metal, other mineral products, and chromium ore. This is also largely due to higher demand from the People’s Republic of China (PR China), Hong Kong, and South Korea.

The strong performance of these sectors offset the lower export revenues registered by petroleum and forest products.

Meanwhile, Esguerra noted that the double-digit growth of exports for the period remains healthy and is likely to be sustained.

“This expectation is primarily anchored on increasing global demand alongside business expansions and new product launches for garments and information technology sectors as well as improved availability of raw materials and agricultural products. Moving forward, export revenue growth is likely to be driven by the rebound in the export of electronic products, machinery and transport and other electronics,” he said.

Esguerra also called for the cooperation of the private sector, especially in continuing efforts to diversify the country’s export markets within the greater ASEAN region.

“The government on the other hand, should be prepared to craft measures to protect vulnerable sectors in the event of economic shocks in the global market. As outlined in the PDP Midterm Update and reflected in the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2014-2016, policy strategies should be linked to governance reforms, supply chain improvement, infrastructure support and product diversification and innovation in order to sustain exports growth,” he concluded.

Japan remains as the country’s top export market with a total value of US$1.0 billion, accounting for 19.1 percent of our total revenues from merchandise exports during the period.

This is followed by the PR China with a 15.0 percent share and the USA with 14.6 percent.

In terms of regional destinations, shipments to the members of the ASEAN account for 14.1 percent of the country’s total exports while the European Union (EU) covered 12.7 percent.

DDG Esguerra is the OIC of the NEDA Secretariat while Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan is on official business abroad.