Double-digit growth in exports and imports pushed up total merchandise trade of the Philippines by 16.1 percent, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Based on the Philippines Statistics Authority’s report, total trade grew to USD11.3 billion backed by imports growing by 20.3 percent and exports growing by 11 percent, recording its second consecutive double-digit growth this year.

“We see this as a strong follow-through to the 14.2 percent growth of total Philippine trade recorded in January, keeping our country’s economy on-track in sustaining its momentum of growth,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

Exports earnings rose to USD4.7 billion, mainly driven by growth in volume of manufactured goods (6.2%), mineral (99.5%), and petroleum products (224.6%).

“The healthy growth in Philippine exports was mainly driven by higher exports to East Asian countries, comprising 48.3 percent share in total exports.  Receipts from  Hong Kong and China surged by 66 percent and 24.7 percent growth, respectively,” the Cabinet official said.

He also noted that Philippine exports to ASEAN countries grew by 18.8 percent in the same period, a good sign that the country is forging stronger connections with its Asian neighbors.

Also, import payments grew to USD6.5 billion in the same period, led by volume increase in the purchases of mineral fuels and lubricants (97.3%), raw materials and intermediate goods (7.9%), capital goods (18%), and consumer goods (21.5%).

“The performance of trade in the first two months of the year is a good indication that we are on an upward trajectory. With ASEAN chairmanship and China’s rebalancing to a more consumer-oriented growth, the Philippines is expected to have expansions in terms of products and markets,” said Pernia.

He added that to ensure the sustainability of this growth, it should be balanced with efforts to improve the competitiveness of the country’s exports.