Philippine trade

Philippine trade closes out 2020 in the red, may continue to limp

Ralf Rivas
Philippine trade closes out 2020 in the red, may continue to limp

TRADE. The Laguna Inland Container Depot.

File photo from ICTSI

Trade will likely remain subdued in 2021, as the fragile global recovery affects Philippine businesses

Philippine exports missed estimates and slipped in December 2020, while imports fell for the 20th consecutive month, preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.

Exports were down slightly by 0.2% in December 2020, from a 4% increase in November 2020 and a 21.6% increase in December 2019.

ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Mapa noted that outbound shipments to China faltered in December and weighed down the entire sector.

Electronics exports grew 4.9%, but agricultural goods crashed 46.8% due to tropical cyclones during the last quarter of the year.

The Philippines notably exported more personal protective equipment and medical supplies in December, with an export value of $3.3 million, representing a 709% growth.

Exports to Hong Kong comprised the highest export value amounting to $945 million in December, followed by the United States ($915.5 million), China ($810 million), Japan ($768.2 million), and Singapore ($278.5 million).

Meanwhile, imports fell by 9.1%, as the country significantly reduced inward shipments of construction materials.

Consumer imports managed to grow by 1.5%, indicating some resumption of economic activity during the month.

“Trade trends will likely continue going into 2021 with a fragile global recovery expected to limit particular gains for the export sector while downbeat economic prospects will likely translate to subdued import demand as both firms and households limit investment activity,” Mapa said. –

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Ralf Rivas

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