Global slowdown hits 2011 Philippine exports

Lala Rimando
When the world sneezes, the Philippines catches the cold, at least in terms of exports, one of Philippines' biggest dollar earners


MANILA, Philippines – When the world sneezes, the Philippines catches the cold, at least in terms of exports, one of the Philippines’ biggest dollar earners.

In 2011, merchandise exports contracted by 6.9% from $51.498 billion during the same period a year ago to $47.967 billion, according to the government’s statistics office release on Friday, February 10.  

A poor performance was not a surprise. Philippine exports have shadowed the fate of the global economy, which suffered a beating from the financial-turned-economic crises in the west and the geopolitical risks in Arab countries. 

The supply disruptions caused by the twin disasters that befell Japan in March 2011 and the floods that kept Thailand on a standstill were also culprits to the slower production output here.

What was surprising, however, was the massive 29.7% slump in December.

Export receipts have been on a decline since May 2011, but December’s drop pulled the entire year’s export performance lower than the central bank’s forecast of a 1% decline and the export industry confederation’s own -5%.    

The fate of Philippine exports have pulled down the country’s 2011 economic growth the most. According to estimates of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), falling export receipts slashed our growth domestic product (GDP) performance by up to 2.2 percentage points

In 2011, the Philippine economy grew only 3.7% from the previous year’s 7.6%. This puts the Philippines as the second in Asia with the steepest economic growth decline next to flood-stricken Thailand.

The vulnerability of Philippine exports to the world’s economic and supply woes is one of the 2 major lessons from the poor economic performance in 2011.

The performance of exports has been traced to the narrow export base of the Philippines. Electronics has traditionally accounted for half or more of our export receipts.

Various groups have long pointed out that Philippines’s manufactured products are too focused on churning low-end semiconductor parts components that find their way into mobile phones, televisions, and other electronic products.

In December 2011 alone, electronics suffered a drastic 32.7% drop to $1.52 billion from $2.26 billion in the same previous the year before.

The other export products of the Philippines are:

  • Articles of Apparel and Clothing Accessories – 4.5% share to total exports revenue 
  • Woodcrafts and Furniture – 4%
  • Ignition Wiring Set and Other Wiring Sets Used in Vehicles, Aircrafts and Ships, consisting only of electrical wiring harness for motor vehicles – 0.002%
  • Coconut Oil, including crude and refinedwith – 3%



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