MANILA— Philippine merchandise exports grew by 21.3 percent, making it the top export performer among selected East and Southeast Asian economies, and raising hopes for a stronger expansion for the rest of 2014, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“This is the highest level since the economy started posting a continuous positive growth in the same period last year. It is also way faster than the 6.9-percent increase in May 2014 and the 4.1-percent expansion in June 2013,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

The Philippines outperformed Vietnam (12.7%), People’s Republic of China (7.2%), Malaysia (5.6%), Singapore (4.7%), Thailand (3.9%), Indonesia (3.8%), Hong Kong (2.7%), Republic of Korea (2.5%), Taiwan (1.2%), and Japan (-6.5%).

Philippine exports grew to US$5.4 billion from US$4.5 billion in June 20l3. For the first half of 2014, total exports rose by 8.3 percent to US$29.8 billion from US$27.5 billion in a comparable period last year.

“The export gains are broad-based, as reflected by increased overseas demand for our manufactures, mineral products, total agro-based, and forest products. This also indicates that the global economy is ready for a strong recovery,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.

Manufactured goods posted a double-digit growth rate of 15.7 percent, which amounted to US$4.3 billion in June 2014 from US$3.7 billion in June 2013. Most notably, the exports value of electronics products reached US$2.2 billion in June 2014, up by 10.7 percent compared to US$2.0 billion in the same period last year.

In addition, semiconductors, which comprised more than half of the country’s total electronics exports during the period, posted its first positive growth rate in 2014.

“The positive performance of semiconductor exports mirrored the upward trend in the global chip industry,” said Balisacan.

Likewise, strong outward sales of iron ore agglomerates and chromium ore with Japan and China propelled mineral products to a hefty growth rate of 85.1 percent, amounting to US$486.0 million in June 2014 from US$262.5 million in June 2013.

Forest products also registered a 24.0-percent growth in export revenues in June 2014, as supported by strong overseas sales of logs and lumber.

Meanwhile, total export revenues from petroleum products contracted by 99.9 percent from US$89.4 million June 2013 to US$0.06 million in June 2014 due to lower export volume.

“Our overall outlook for Philippine merchandise exports continues to be optimistic in view of favorable expectations on the global economy for the rest of 2014, particularly on the growth prospects of advanced countries such as the USA and the Euro Area,” said Balisacan.

“On the domestic front, industry expectations also point to a favorable export performance for the full-year 2014. For instance, the Semiconductors and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI) and exporters of some non-electronics manufactures such as furniture, fixtures and garments expect upward adjustment and expansions in their annual growth forecasts,” he added.

“For agro-based commodities, bright prospects for banana and mango exports are seen on the back of a possible increase in market access, notably in Australia and the US,” the cabinet official concluded.

Japan remains as the top destination of Philippine exports, accounting for 17.6 percent of the country’s total overseas merchandise sales receipts, with a total value of US$956 million.

PR China was the second largest export market with a 15.8-percent share, followed by the USA with 13.8-percent share in total exports.

In terms of regional destination, shipments to the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) member-countries comprised about 14.2 percent of total exports while the European Union covered 10.2 percent.