Exports rose for a second month on higher demand for electronic products, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show.
Merchandise exports in May reached $6.16 billion, up 1 percent from $6.09 billion a year ago. Electronic products. which accounted for 56 percent of total exports, increased 6.2 percent to $3.45 billion from $3.25 billion in the same month last year.
Other commodities that saw higher export sales in May were copper concentrates (up 192.1 percent); ignition wiring set and other wiring sets used in vehicles, aircrafts and ships (up 31.7 percent); fresh bananas (up 28.6 percent); chemicals (20.1 percent); metal components (14 percent); and gold (8.3 percent).
Meanwhile, imports shrank 5.4 percent in May to $9.43 billion from $9.97 billion a year earlier. This reduced the trade deficit in May to $3.28 billion from a $3.88-billion shortfall in May 2018.
The trade deficit in the first five months, however, still widened to $16.5 billion from $15.7 billion in the same month last year.
The National Economic and Development Authority said outlook remained upbeat for the economy despite the weak trade figures.
“Global economic outlook for 2019 remains subdued as policy uncertainties and some geopolitical tensions continue to pose risks to many economies. But amid these external developments, the country’s economic outlook remains upbeat,” said Neda director-general and Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.
Both the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank estimate that the Philippine economy would 6.4 percent and 6.5 percent in 2019 and 2020, respectively. The favorable view is supported by the latest International Monetary Fund growth forecasts of 6.5 percent in 2019 and 6.6 percent in 2020.
Pernia said the approval of the Philippine Export Development Plan 2018-2022 should further support external trade. The PEDP which is anchored on the PDP 2017-2022 will provide a more focused approach in improving the country’s export position, he said.
“Strategies under the PEDP must be implemented in harmony with the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 to boost merchandise trade growth,” he said.
Trade deficit ballooned by 51 percent to $41.4 billion in 2018 from $27.38 billion in 2017, as imports grew 13 percent to $108.92 billion from $96.093 billion in 2017 while exports declined 1.77 percent to $67.487 billion from $68.712 billion.