Pernia worried about weak Philippine exports

MANILA, Philippines – Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia urged the government to improve its export strategies amid a widening trade gap.

In a statement on Thursday, January 10, Pernia said the country needs to ramp up the implementation of strategies outlined in the Philippine Export Development Plan, which includes supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

"Simplifying loan processes, provision of financial literacy trainings, and facilitation of linkages between MSMEs and large corporations are some ways to spur the internationalization of MSMEs," Pernia said.   

The comments of the country's chief economist come amid the report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which said that the country's merchandise exports declined and imports climbed.

Imports surged by 6.8% to $9.47 billion in November 2018 from $8.86 billion in November 2017.

Exports, meanwhile, slipped by 0.3% to $5.57 billion last November.

Graph from the Philippine Statistics Authority

Raw materials and intermediate goods contributed the largest share at 38.6% of the country's total imports, up by 6.7% to $3.65 billion.

Meanwhile, electronic products remained the country's top export with total earnings of $3.16 billion. This accounts for 56.7% of the total exports' revenue in November 2018.

China is still the country's biggest supplier of imports, with an 18.7% share last November. 

The United States was the top destination for Philippine products, comprising 16% of the total exports.

"A widening current account balance due to rising capital goods imports and anemic exports growth is a cause for concern. The widening gap emphasizes the need to reform legislation to allow foreign investments in firms catering to the domestic market, in addition to expanding their exporting activities," Pernia said. 

Pernia also called for the full implementation of the Ease of Doing Business Act, which creates the anti-red tape authority and the national single window. (READ: Duterte wants ex-military to head anti-red tape agency)

Pernia said these measures would benefit existing firms, encourage expansion, as well as attract new firms to do business in the country.

A trade deficit occurs when imports exceed exports, representing an outflow of the Philippine peso to foreign markets.

More imports amid a weak currency also entails more cost for the government. –

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.