MANILA—Merchandise exports slumped anew as total receipts declined by 15.6 percent in February 2013, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
“The lower export earnings were partly due to persistent weakness in global demand, which seems to be consistent with the January 2013 imports report of NEDA. We indicated that there is a possibility that electronic exports in the first quarter of 2013 will be sluggish,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.
Receipts for merchandise exports totaled to US$3.7 billion in February 2013, lower than the US$4.4 billion recorded during the same month last year.
Manufactures and mineral products significantly fell by 17.5 percent year-on-year to US$3.2 billion in February 2013, which mainly pulled down total merchandise exports for the period.
“Nevertheless, signs of economic rebounds are expected following the easing in contraction of industrial production in high-income economies,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.
Electronics exports reached US$1.5 billion in February 2013, lower by 36.5 percent compared to the US$2.3 billion recorded in the same period a year ago.
This was affected by the decline of semiconductors, which decreased by 31.3 percent in February 2013 partly due to the still depressed volume of outward shipments, which recorded a decline of 15.6 percent also during the month.
“But improved prospects for the semiconductor industries for 2013 remain following the Semiconductor Industry Association’s (SIA) report that worldwide chip sales increased by 1.4 percent in February 2013 vis-à-vis the same period in 2012,” said Balisacan.
He added that increasing orders for semiconductor equipment may be expected in the near future as indicated by high book-to-bill ratios in major electronics production hubs like the United States of America (USA) and Japan.
However, total agro-based exports rose by 43.7 percent, amounting to US$343.9 million in February 2013 from US$239.4 million in February 2012. Higher exports of centrifugal and refined sugar (27,094.6%), bananas (95.5%), coconut oil (23.5%), copra meal/cake (463.6%), unmanufactured tobacco (197.5%), and other fruits and vegetables (32.4%) drove the growth for the period.
“Higher exports of sugar may be seen in the near term with India and South Korea becoming the new markets for Philippine sugars in 2013,” said Balisacan.
He also added that higher exports of bananas in the future can be expected to come from new markets following the US Department of Agriculture’s announcement that allows Philippine highland Cavendish bananas to be shipped to the USA.
In terms of market share, Japan was the top destination of Philippine exports in February 2013, accounting for 18.9 percent of total export receipts. Second was the USA with a 15.9-percent share, and then followed by the People’s Republic of China (10.2%), Singapore (7.0%), and the Republic of Korea (6.2%).