Agricultural trade deficit expands in Q4 2018

MANILA, Philippines – The agricultural trade deficit in the 4th quarter of 2018 expanded by 30.78% from the same period in 2017, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

In a report released on Thursday, March 28, the PSA said that while agricultural exports grew by 8.8% year-on-year to $1.66 billion in the last quarter of 2018, imports outpaced that with 19.6% year-on-year growth to $3.57 billion.

While deficits were posted in all quarters in 2018, the gap between imports and exports narrowed starting from the 2nd quarter when the deficit was at 52.9%, then to 42.38% in the 3rd quarter. The trade deficit in the 1st quarter registered at 42%.

Overall agricultural trade in the 4th quarter grew by 15.9% or $5.23 billion from $4.51 billion in the same period in 2017.

The top exported agricultural produce were edible fruits and nuts, as well as peel of citrus fruit and melons, which took up 38.9% of the top 10 exports for agriculture.

Driven by Chinese demand, export value for these products grew by 60.8% to $645.14 million.

The most imported agricultural product was cereal, which posted a $365.64-million value for the last quarter. This is a 103.4% jump from the same period in 2017.

The Philippines saw the largest trade surplus with Japan, with the balance of trade at $224.10 million. For other top trading partners, however, the Philippines posted a trade deficit. 

The largest deficit came from the country's own Southeast Asian neighbors at $987.37 million, followed by the United States at $473.83 million and European Union member states at $96.20 million. The trade deficit with Australia stood at $84.81 million. –