Global economic slowdown continued to strain Philippine merchandise exports which declined by 4.5 percent in February 2016, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that total export earnings reached US$4.3 billion in February 2016, from US$ 4.5 billion in the same month last year, due to decline in all commodity groups.
“The export performance of most of the trade-oriented economies in East and Southeast Asia continues to reel from weak global demand that is largely influenced by the global economic slowdown. For the Philippines, we see this continuing only within the near term but it remains important for us to set up short-term measures that will support some of our export products,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Emmanuel F. Esguerra.
Only Viet Nam and Thailand posted positive export gains while China recorded the steepest decline at 25.3 percent during the period.
“As softer external demand is expected over the near term, the Philippines should at least aim for a 5.4 percent growth in merchandise exports, which is the low-end projection of the Export Development Council. Short-term measures may include providing government support to export products for which demand is growing faster relative to other export segments and where the Philippines has an increasing market share,” he said.
Revenues from manufactured products slightly dropped by 2.0 percent to reach US$3.7 billion from US$3.8 billion in February 2015.
“The drop in exports of manufactured goods reflected the general slowdown experienced by the manufacturing sector around the world. But it is worth noting that overseas sales of our electronic products posted its ninth consecutive month of positive growth,” said Esguerra, who is also NEDA Director-General.
Electronic products comprised 49.4 percent of total merchandise exports for the period.
Meanwhile, total sales receipts from agro-based products also fell by 5.8 percent to US$307.9 million in February 2016, due to lower sales in coconut products and other agro-based products.
Likewise, outbound sales of mineral products declined by 32.5 percent to US$172.6 million in February 2016 due to lower exports of all segments except for copper concentrates.
Outward shipments for petroleum products also declined by 60.5 percent to US$6.1 million in February 2016 due to persistent low global oil prices.
“While current global growth conditions remain tilted to the downside and will continue to affect exports in the short term, the Philippines must take advantage of the opportunity presented by an expected improvement in the economic growth of the ASEAN region,” he noted.
Esguerra added that GDP growth in India and the ASEAN region are expected to pick up, which will help balance the slowdown of China. In particular, the ramping-up of investments in Indonesia and the Philippines, Viet Nam’s continued expansion, and Thailand’s recovery from a slump in 2014 will prop up growth in ASEAN to 4.5 percent, higher than the 4.4 percent growth estimated in 2015.
“This provides an opportunity for the Philippines to expand its export market in the region. And it is important to ensure that Philippine products conform to export standards so as not to lose market share,” he said.