MANILA –Brisk performance of agro-based and forest products, minerals, and petroleum steered merchandise exports to a positive outturn in March 2013 reversing the negative trend of the last two months, according to the National Economic and Development Authority.

“Year-on-year upsurge in export earnings from agro-based and forest products, minerals, and petroleum offset the decline in receipts from manufactured exports,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

Merchandise exports grew by 0.1 percent to $4.33 billion in March 2013 from $4.32 billion a year ago.

For the first three months of 2013, merchandise exports were down by 6.2 percent to $12.1 billion from $12.9 billion in the same period in 2012.

Receipts from agro-based products, which comprised almost a tenth of total exports, went up by 39.3 percent to $410.8 million in March 2013.

“The opening up of new markets combined with uptick in demand from our key markets resulted in robust performance of our agro-based products, particularly for coconut oil, bananas, copra meal/cake fish products, centrifugal and refined sugar, among others,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director General.

Exports of mineral products also increased by 71.3 percent to $228.0 million in March 2013 on account of higher revenues from copper metal, chromium ore, iron ore agglomerates, and nickel.

Similarly, overseas sales of petroleum and forest products were up by 16.4 percent and 80.6 percent, respectively, in March 2013.

Meanwhile, exports of manufactured goods dropped for the third consecutive month in March 2013, contracting by 5.0 percent to $3.5 billion.

Electronics exports were also down to $1.8 billion in March 2013 from $2.3 billion a year ago.

The shift from personal computers to mobile devices combined with sluggish shipments of semiconductors to China, Singapore, Hong Kong, USA and Japan resulted in weak performance of electronic data processing and semiconductors.

Japan remained to be the country’s top consumer of Philippine products in February, accounting for 18.5 percent of the total export receipts. USA was the second largest export destination with a 14.4-percent share, followed by the People’s Republic of China (13.2%), Hong Kong (8.5%), and the Republic of Korea (7.4%).