Merchandise exports jumped 20 percent year-on-year in October to a record $7.7 billion, but the trade deficit continued to swell to nearly $50 billion in the first 10 months, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show.
The PSA said the trade deficit amounted to $3.31 billion in October, the narrowest since May 2021, as exports grew by 20 percent, faster than the 7.5-percent expansion of imports.
Total trade deficit from January to October reached $49.9 billion, wider than the $32.4-billion gap in the same period last year.
Exports hit $7.70 billion in October, reflecting an annual increase of 20 percent, faster than the increment of 7.1 percent in September. In October 2021, export sales grew 2.0 percent.
This brought the total export earnings in the first 10 months to $66.01 billion, up 6.3 percent from $62.10 billion a year ago.
Electronic products continued to be the country’s top export in October with total earnings of $5.10 billion. This accounted for 66.3 percent of the total exports during the month. This was followed by other mineral products with an export value of $294.00 million (3.8 percent); and other manufactured goods, which amounted to $273.61 million (3.6 percent).
Total imported goods in October amounted to $11 billion, up 7.5 percent year-on-year.
“The annual growth in the value of imported goods in October 2022 was mainly due to the increases in the values of five of the top 10 major commodity groups, with metalliferous ores and metal scrap having the fastest annual growth rate of 462.7 percent. This was followed by transport equipment, which rose by 46.3 percent annually; and other food and live animals by 40.3 percent,” the PSA said.
Total imports from January to October reached $115.99 billion, 22.7 percent from a year earlier.
Most of the imported goods were electronic products with an import value of $2.88 billion or a share of 26.2 percent to the total imports in October. This was followed by mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials, valued at $1.88 billion (17.1 percent); and transport equipment, which amounted to $840.83 million (7.6 percent).
Michael Ricafort, chief economist of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said the easing of trade deficit in October was largely brought about by the record exports on a monthly basis.
“The narrower trade deficit may have to do with the lower global crude oil prices at new lows in nearly a year recently, at $73 per barrel levels for the Nymex crude oil benchmark, and erased all the increase since the start of 2022 and further below the $92 levels when Russia-Ukraine war started on February 24, 2022,” Ricafort said in a report.
He said the significant narrowing in the trade deficit data might have fundamentally helped stabilize and even improved the peso exchange rate.
The peso settled at a record low of 59 per US dollar four times in October. The peso is now trading within the 55-to-the-dollar level.