Exports rebound in April, but electronics down markedly

Merchandise exports manage to post a 7.6% growth in April despite the 23.8% plunge in electronics shipments

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s merchandise exports rebounded in April, but the main electronics item fell for the first time this year, threatening economic growth.

Data from the National Statistics Office showed exports grew 7.6% in April from last year to $4.635 billion. The growth was an improvement from the revised 0.8% decline in exports recorded in March.

However, shipments of electronics, which accounted for bulk or 35.3% of total exports, plunged 23.8% to $1.634 billion during the month. In March, electronics grew by a measly 1.1%.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr nonetheless welcomed the positive export figure.

“If this trend is sustained, it should make the national government’s growth target easier to achieve,” he said.

Other products bucked the decline in electronics, although they accounted for only small percentages of total exports. Apparel and clothing grew 14.3% to $151.2 million (3.3% share); woodcrafts and furniture rose 7.5% to $137.55 million (3% share); and metal components soared 113.2% to $120.69 million (2.6% share).

The country’s exports, a major driver of the economy, declined for most of 2011 as demand weakened due to the global economic crisis.

While many analysts are positive about a recovery this year, some are cautious given the lingering financial problems of some of the Philippines’ major trading partners.

Economic recovery in the US remains weak, while countries in Europe are implementing austerity measures to help alleviate their debt woes.

This year, the Philippines is targeting a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5% to 6%. But the government is optimistic it could beat the goal, mainly on the anticipated increase in public spending.

Top markets

In April, Japan, including Okinawa, was the Philippines’ top export market, followed by the United States, Korea and China.

Japan accounted for 15.9% or $738.29 million of total receipts, 0.4% down from last year’s $741.92 million.

The US contributed 14.6% or $677.47 million, up 19.2% from $568.28 million last year.

Exports to Korea and China grew 211% to $658.43 million (14.2%), and 1.2% to $497.34 million (10.7%), respectively. – Rappler.com