Exports increased 1.5 percent in 2019 to hit an all-time high of $70.32 billion, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the country achieved the feat despite the external headwinds from the global trade policy uncertainties, geopolitical tensions and country-specific challenges.
“The relatively strong export performance of the Philippines transpired amid DTI’s strong efforts in attracting investments, spurring MSME development and promoting the ease of doing business,” said Lopez.
He said the country’s export growth was also the second-best performer among East Asian economies, next to Vietnam. The Philippines, China and Vietnam were the only three countries that reported positive export performance among 11 trade-oriented Asian economies last year.
“Our goal was to expand the productive capacity and export base as well as in actively enhancing trade relations with existing partner economies, by marketing products abroad and exploring new export markets,” Lopez said.
For the first time, electronics exports hit $40 billion on the back of a 4.4-percent growth. The sector comprised of 56.9 percent of total merchandise exports, with non-electronic products making up the remaining 43.1 percent at $30.3 billion.
Meanwhile, the country’s trade-in-goods deficit narrowed by 15 percent in 2019 to $37.049 billion from $43.533 billion in 2018 as exports’ growth outpaced that of imports.
Data showed that while exports slightly improved by 1.5 percent to $70.32 billion from $69.3 billion in 2018, imports declined 4.8 percent to $107.37 billion from $112.84 billion.
The PSA said that in December, the trade deficit shrunk 40.6 percent to $2.48 billion from the $4.17-billion deficit a year earlier.
Total exports sales in December jumped 21.4 percent to $5.74 billion from $4.73 billion a year ago.
Top gainers in December were cathodes and sections of cathodes, of refined copper (up 471.2 percent), fresh bananas (34.9 percent), gold (30.2 percent), electronic products (24.9 percent) and chemicals (18.2 percent).
Exports of electronic products continued to be the country’s top export with total earnings of $3.44 billion in December. This amount, which accounted for 59.9 percent of the total exports during the month, went up by 24.9 percent.
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