PH exports fall by 3.9% in January 2016

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine exports fell by 3.9% in January 2016, with lower earnings from all major commodity groups, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Thursday, March 10.

Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed that merchandise exports fell to $4.2 billion in January 2016 from $4.4 billion recorded in the same month last year.

NEDA attributed the slow start to a weak global recovery which has affected demand, and also warned that the trend could continue into the year.

"The year 2016 is expected to be a challenging one for the export sector as the global economy faces sluggish economic recovery and uneven growth. We see global trade growth remaining at a low level as the world copes with soft demand and lower commodity prices,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Emmanuel Esguerra.

Last year, overall merchandise exports dipped by 5.6%.

Esguerra pointed out that most of the major East and Southeast Asian trade-oriented economies also registered negative growth in January 2016. Vietnam registered the smallest decline, and Singapore, the steepest decline.

Late last month, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) described global growth prospects for 2016 as "tepid" with an overall growth outlook of little more than 3%.

Manufactured goods

Despite a surge in manufacturing volume registered in January, export of manufactured goods dropped by 2.2%, falling to $3.7 billion.

"The fall in exports of manufactured products mirrors the general weakness of the global manufacturing sector. However, worth noting is the 5% increase in the exports of electronic products that registered its 8th consecutive month of positive growth in January," Esguerra said.

Exports of agro-based products declined by 7.6% to $289.1 million, dragged by lower revenues from coconut products and fish products.

"We attribute this to the continued tightness in supply due to persistent dry weather. Also, lower export revenues for fish products can be partly traced to the lower supply of fish in Region XII," said Esguerra, who is also NEDA Director-General.

Mineral products and oil

Outbound sales of mineral products also dropped by 27.8% to $145.3 million, while the export value of petroleum products declined by 17.8% to $10 million due to low oil prices.

The NEDA chief said that despite recent improvements, market and product concentration are still challenges.

He added that trading with other ASEAN economies remains limited despite growing regional integration.

"The government and private sector should take advantage of the opportunities offered by economic groupings, trade agreements, and the structural transformation of other economies. We should engage more actively in information gathering and dissemination, market intelligence, and capacity building of our exporters," said Esguerra. – Rappler.com