Philippine economy

Exports, imports jump in August 2021 as economy slowly exits recession

Ralf Rivas

TRADE. Shipments at the port in Manila.

Department of Transportation

Imports jump 30.8%, signaling some recovery in consumer demand

Philippine imports and exports posted double-digit growths in August, as the economy slowly recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, latest data of the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.

Total export sales in August amounted to $6.5 billion, 17.6% higher than last year.

Electronic products continued to be the Philippines’ top export in August, with total earnings of $3.69 billion, which is 57.1% of the total exports during the period.

Meanwhile, total imported goods in August amounted to $10.04 billion, 30.8% higher than the same month last year.

Most of the imported goods were electronic products worth $2.8 billion, followed by mineral fuels and lubricants ($1.3 billion), and iron and steel ($538.2 million). 

China was the Philippines’ top trading partner, with total export value amounting to $1.05 billion and import value reaching $2.4 billion.

ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Mapa said that while trade figures have improved, the country was “still at least a year away from returning to pre-Covid levels.” 

“[E]ven the pace of expansion remains much to be desired given the stop-go nature of partial lockdown measures and relatively low vaccination rates,” Mapa said.

The silver lining, according to Mapa, was the modest pickup in imports, which signaled pickup in demand due to looser mobility restrictions.

Meanwhile, the widening of the trade gap will likely threaten the pace of recovery. Mapa said that this would add pressure on the Philippine peso.

“We can expect [the peso] to face a depreciation bias to close out the year especially with sentiment shifting back to developed market currencies, whose countries have fared much better in terms of pandemic response and as a result have enjoyed a quicker rebound for their economies,” Mapa said. –

Ralf Rivas

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