Merchandise exports grew 8.9 percent in January to $6.04 billion from a year ago and exceeded the pre-pandemic level of $5.8 billion in the same month of 2020, while imports jumped 27.5 percent to hit $10.74 billion, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
It also marked the 11 straight months of exports since March 2021, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez cited the encouraging recovery in most of the country’s global markets, especially prior to the Ukraine crisis and the earlier reopening of the export enterprises which were allowed to operate at 100-percent capacity.
Nearly half of the growth in exports in January was driven by the increase in the shipments of electronic products. Consistent with the long-standing structure of Philippine merchandise exports, electronics sales accounted for $3.5 billion or 58 percent of the total Philippine exports.
Coconut oil recorded the highest growth of 110 percent in January to $178.8 million, driven by consumer trends, particularly the increased awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
Lopez expressed hope that the evolving Russia-Ukraine conflict would be short-lived so as not to massively disrupt the post-pandemic recovery.
Meanwhile, the trade deficit widened 63.2 percent in January to $4.695 billion, led by the 27.5-percent increase in imports.
Total imported goods amounted to $10.74 billion, marking its 12th consecutive month of positive annual growth. In December 2021, the annual increase was higher at 39.1 percent.
Most of the imported goods were electronic products with an import value of $2.79 billion for a share of 26 percent to the total imports in January.
This was followed by mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials, valued at $1.41 billion (13.2 percent); and transport equipment which amounted to $854.27 million (8.0 percent).
China was the country’s biggest supplier of imported goods valued at $2.07 billion or 19.3 percent of the total in January.
Last year, the trade-in-goods deficit hit $43.134 billion, up $18.5 billion from $24.6-billion shortfall in 2020. The 2021 deficit was near the record of $43.5-billion gap recorded in 2018. With AFP
Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort earlier said the Philippines might incur a new record trade deficit of $50 billion this year as prices of global commodities led by oil, natural gas, wheat, nickel, and copper also posted record highs amid the continuing Russia and Ukraine conflict.
“Trade deficit estimate for 2022 would be wider around -$43 billion to -$45 billion, after -$43.1 billion in 2021 [compared to the record trade deficit of -$43.5 billion posted in 2018],” Ricafort said.
“However, in view of Russia’s invasion/war with Ukraine since February 24, 2022, the country’s trade deficit could widen towards -$50 billion in view of the sharp increase in global oil prices to new 13.5-year highs [since July 2008] as well [as] sharp increase in the prices of other imported global commodities such as wheat/flour, soybeans, corn, other grains, metals, among others; all of which would increase the country’s oil/commodity import bill in the coming months,” Ricafort said.
He said measures to further re-open the economy towards greater normalcy, especially in view of the proposal by the country’s economic team to ease the nationwide Alert Level to the lowest 1 and additional measures to further re-open the economy such as the resumption of in-person schooling, would also lead to increased economic and importation activities.