May 8, 2019

The National Economic and Development Authority urges local producers to continue to diversify products and earnestly look for new markets, especially abroad, to ratchet up Philippine exports.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that the country’s total merchandise trade grew by 3.5 percent to USD14.9 billion in March 2019, as imports’ sustained growth (7.8%) offset a contraction in exports (-2.5%).

This is the fourth month of decline in export receipts, dragged by a dip in sales of electronics (-3.7%) and petroleum products (-66.9%).

“To drive up exports, we are encouraging exporters to continue to diversify products to expand their markets. To match this effort, the government continues to explore non-traditional markets such as Eastern European countries and is seeking to strengthen ties with traditional trading partners,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

He noted that to this end, the Export Marketing Bureau of the Department of Trade and Industry is looking at non-electronic products such as cars, desiccated coconut, coconut oil, and footwear & wearables, among others, as new export growth drivers.

“Recently, the Philippines has also secured a commitment from the UK on continuing the same level of market access to UK post-Brexit, similar to the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences,” the Cabinet official said.

In addition, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea arrived at a common understanding to pursue a bilateral free trade agreement and could possibly conclude the negotiations in time for the 2019 Republic of Korea-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in November 2019.

Meanwhile, in terms of exports to major trading partners in March, receipts from ASEAN countries grew by 2.7 percent, supported by stronger outturns in shipments to Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

On the other hand, exports to East Asia, US, and EU declined by 0.4 percent, 3.1 percent, and 17.2 percent, respectively.

“To put the Philippines in a more competitive stance, it is crucial to open up domestic sectors to foreign participation through the proposed amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, Retail Trade Act, and Public Services Act,” the Cabinet official said.

This will help attract multinational firms to invest and set up their manufacturing operations in the country, he noted. The resulting expanded local production would help cater to the needs of both domestic and external markets.


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