August 08, 2018

MANILA –  Promotion and development of Philippine exports should be more aggressive to help in continuing the country’s strong trade performance as recorded in June 2018, the National Economic and Development Authority said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the country’s total trade grew by 13.5 percent, reaching USD14.8 billion in June 2018. This growth is driven mainly by imports which grew by 24.2 percent, but tempered by the 0.1-percent decline in exports.

“Creating a broader market base for exports through effective trade facilitation and by effectively utilizing existing free trade agreements, as well as forging new ones, are important in improving our export market moving forward,” said Socioeconomic Planning Ernesto M. Pernia.

Exports declined for the sixth consecutive month, albeit only marginally in June 2018, as higher revenues from manufactures, forest products, and petroleum slightly offset lower receipts from mineral and agro-based products.

Merchandise imports growth remained strong as all commodity groups posted hefty gains.

Pernia said that the government needs to ensure that the country’s National Single Window is already operational in 2018 as programmed. This sets up necessary infrastructure that will seamlessly connect relevant agencies involved in processing export and import permits and other trading requirements.

The recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between the trade officials of the Philippine government and the United Arab Emirates to create a more enabling trading environment is also a positive development, particularly in terms of halal goods accreditation.

There is also progress in the negotiations on a possible US-Philippines Free Trade Agreement in a bid to expand markets for the country’s agricultural products like carrageenan and seaweed, as well as for garments and textiles.

“We should also negotiate for lower tariffs with other trade partners. In the case of bananas for instance, the reduction in tariffs will enable the country to compete with other banana exporters,” Pernia said.

Apart from expanding market access, unfair logistics pricing should also be addressed. The DTI has recently called on the Philippine Competition Commission to review shipping charges of foreign shipping lines, as excessive logistics costs undermine the competitiveness of traders.