Strong imports pushed the nine-month trade deficit to a record $46.65 billion, as the reopening of the economy led to higher demand for consumer items, raw materials and capital goods.
The Philippine Statistics Authority said trade deficit in September widened by 26.5 percent to $4.82 billion from $3.81 billion a year ago, as imports grew faster than exports. The balance of trade in goods, or the difference between the value of exports and imports, affects the country’s balance of payments.
Exports recovered by 7 percent in September to $7.16 billion from $6.688 billion a year ago, following a drop in August. This brought the cumulative export earnings in the first nine months to $58.31 billion, up 4.7 percent from $55.69 billion a year earlier.
Electronic products continued to be the country’s top export in September with total earnings of $4.51 billion. This accounted for 63.0 percent of the total exports during the period.
Merchandise imports climbed 14.1 percent in September to $11.98 billion from $10.5 billion in the same month last year.
“The annual growth in the value of imported goods in September 2022 was mainly due to the increases in the values of seven of the top 10 major commodity groups, with mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials having the fastest annual growth rate of 64.2 percent. This was followed by transport equipment, which rose by 53.3 percent annually; and miscellaneous manufactured articles by 33.7 percent,” the PSA said.
Imports from January to September also jumped by 24.6 percent to $104.96 billion from $84.27 billion.
Most of the imported goods in September were electronic products amounting to $2.98 billion for a share of 24.9 percent to the total. This was followed by mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials, valued at $2.04 billion (17.0 percent); and transport equipment, which amounted to $997.33 million (8.3 percent).
Data showed that trade deficit hit $42.229 billion in 2021, higher than the $24.59-billion shortfall a year ago. The country posted a record $43.5-billion trade deficit in 2018.
The nine-month deficit this year both topped the full-year figures in 2018 and 2021, which led to a balance of payments deficit of $2.34 billion in September and $7.8 billion in the first nine months.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said the BOP deficit reflected the widening trade in goods deficit as goods imports continued to surpass goods exports on the back of the persistent surge in international commodity prices and resumption in domestic economic activities.