Both exports and imports jumped in August from a year ago, on indication of strong third-quarter economic activities, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show.
The PSA said Tuesday merchandise exports increased 9.3 percent in August to $5.5 billion from $5 billion a year earlier, while imports climbed 10.5 percent to $7.9 billion from $7.2 billion.
This means total external trade in goods increased 10 percent in August to $13.42 billion from $12.20 billion a year earlier, a significant improvement from 2.5 percent in July. As a result, the trade deficit widened to $2.4 billion in August from $2.13 billion in the same month last year.
Data showed the 9.3-percent rise in exports was driven by higher shipments of gold (up 186.7 percent); machinery and transport equipment (75 percent); electronic equipment and parts (up 71.3 percent); coconut oil (61.2 percent); metal components (22.6 percent); other manufactured goods (13.8 percent); and electronic products (3.5 percent).
Exports to the United States reached $834.96 million, up by 7.4 percent from $777.14 million in August 2016. Shipments to Japan, however, tumbled 13.6 percent to $827.36 million.
Total exports in the first eight months grew 13.3 percent to $42.1 billion from $37.2 billion a year earlier.
Meanwhile, the 10.5-percent growth in imports in August was traced to the positive performance of metalliferous ores and metal scrap (up 718 percent); organic and inorganic chemicals (27.6 percent); mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (23.8 percent); telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery (11.3 percent); iron and steel (10.9 percent); other food and live animals (9.7 percent); electronic products (8.3 percent); industrial machinery and equipment (6.2 percent); and transport equipment (2.2 percent).
China was the country’s biggest source of imports with 16.9 percent share in August 2017. Imports from China declined 0.8 percent to $1.34 billion. Shipments from Japan increased 9.6 percent to $905.35 million.
Imports in the first eight months went up 8.2 percent to $59.2 billion from $54.7 billion a year earlier.
National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Rolando Tungpalan said productivity-enhancing would help sustain the improving growth of Philippine trade.
“To help enhance this trade productivity, it is important to follow through with reforms that will develop the country’s potential in digital trade and e-commerce,” Tungpalan said.
He said one such example was the Philippine Customs and Trade Facilitation Project, a $200-million World Bank-financed modernization plan for the Bureau of Customs. He said this could boost Customs’ efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and revenue collection through an updating of systems, procedures and operational activities related to processing and clearance of imported and exported goods.
Tungpalan said another trade-enhancing project, TradeNet, an online trading platform targeted to be operational by December, would enable faster electronic cross-border exchange of documents among Asean member states.
He also said the passage of the Ease of Doing Business Act, or the Fast Business Permit Act, would further streamline processes and reduce transaction costs in starting and operating a business in the country.