Is PH really diversifying its exports?

MANILA, Philippines - The country's merchandise exports made it to a rebound in September on the back of non-electronic exports, which now account for more than a third of the country's export revenues.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) National Planning and Policy Staff (NPPS) Director Rosemarie Edillon told Rappler that means the country is already diversifying its exports, which the electronics sector dominated for decades.

Data showed that 'other exports' accounted for 36.76% of total in September, with as much as $1.76 billion in revenues. This reflects a 79.85% growth over 2011's $977.8 million, and 43.26% growth over last month's $1.23 billion.

"This is the result we want. This means we are diversifying exports and this also means that we are getting more players in the export sector. Electronics manufacturing is part of the global supply chain and behaves accordingly. The slight increase could actually be the start of recovery in global demand," Edillion said via text message.

What are 'other' exports?

The National Statistics Office (NSO) said these 'other exports' simply included those products that are not included in the current list of commodity groups, such as processed tropical fruits and some articles of clothing and accessories.

The NSO said an example of these processed tropical fruits are juices or citrus fruit extracts such as the bottled calamansi juice or lemonada.

Other examples are buttons, beads, and zippers.

However, agency explained that reclassification of commodity groups or items are being done at the end of the year. This is also the time when revisions in the data released during the year are done.

Export prospects

But whether 'other exports' saved the day or not, the country's fullyear 2012 export target of 10% would not be achieved. Economist and former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said growth in exports was largely due to base effects.

He said to be able to meet the government's target, exports need to post a growth of 18.4% in the fourth quarter. This is considering that exports in September was the first growth in 5 months.

"That's highly unlikely, perhaps improbable, given that the world economy has grown slower and riskier. Japan is back in recession. Our poor relations with China will continue to affect exports negatively," Diokno said.

The NEDA for its part, said the growth in the 9-month period of 7.2% and Seotember's 22.8% was among the strongest export performances in East and Southeast Asia during the period.

The Philippines emerged on top of countries in the region that posted positive growth in exports in September 2012, which includes Hong Kong (15.8%), Vietnam (15.6%), Taiwan (10.4%), China (9.9%), and Thailand (0.2%).

Japan recorded the steepest fall in exports with an 11.8% decline in the same period, followed by Indonesia (-9.4%), Singapore (-4.8%), and the Republic of Korea (-2%).

"The strong export performance mainly reflected the moderate improvement in global economic activity as industrial production and business confidence indicators showed signs of recovery," NEDA Deputy Director General Emmanuel F. Esguerra said in a statement.

"The Philippines is only one of 4 East and Southeast Asian countries that posted positive growths in the first nine months of 2012, along with Vietnam (18.3%), China (7.4%), and Hong Kong (1.8%)," he said.

Exports growth in September

After months of slump, Philippine exports, an indicator of the impact of the global slowdown on the Philippines, bounced back in September.

Export revenues reach $4.78 billion during the month, the highest since May 2012, and a rebound after a 9% drop in August.

This 22% increase from a year ago was the also the highest since December 2010 when exports posted a growth of 26.5%. The 26% quarter-on-quarter export growth, on the other hand, was the highest since 2006.

After 5 months, electronics products--the single biggest export of the Philippines--posted a positive growth of 1.1% in September. However, 'other exports' overshadowed electronics' gains.

The country's top three export markets for September are Japan which accounted for 30.8% with $1.473 billion; United States, 12.6% with $602.89 million; and China, 11.1% with $526.12 million.

The NSO also said exports to East Asia - China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan - accounted for 57% of total exports. Revenues from these shipments amounted to $2.73 billion, a 47.3% increase from last year's $1.85 billion. -