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Germany, one of the biggest economies in Europe and the fifth top export destination of Philippine export goods, suffered the biggest decline of 17.7 percent, while Japan, the top destination of Philippine exports, contracted by 3 percent. Shipments to the combined markets of China and Hong Kong SAR went down slightly by 5.6 percent, while the third-biggest market, the US, decreased by 8.3 percent. Also, even if Philippine exports continued their downtrend during the past 12 months, the country remains a strong magnet for foreign investments. Foreign direct investments during the past 12 months went up by 51 percent to $936 million, among the bright investment spots in Asia and the Pacific, during the month of February.

Specifically, equity investments totalled $499 million in February, from the $205 million reported by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in February 2015, reflecting a 119.1-percent increase year-on-year.

Several sectors also continue to buoy up the country’s export performance. Sugar and related products went up by 328 percent during the first three months of the year. Wood manufactures also gained 52.3 percent. The so-called old reliables comprising the electronics-products category increased by 4.5 percent from the $6.63 billion in January to March 2016, from the $6.34 billion sold during the first quarter of 2015.

Trade Industry Promotion Group Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado emphasized the need for Philippine exporters to scale up amid a highly competitive global-digital economy through innovations on processes, functionalities and technologies that will help tap new ventures and markets, and substantially integrate into the global value chain.

Local companies have shown their resilience in the face of challenges that include adverse weather patterns, slow global growth and weak demands from major world economies. Not only have local companies grown tremendously in terms of technological savvy; they have also become corporate titans, buying out counterparts and operating subsidiaries in such countries as the United Kingdom, the United States, the Middle East and China.

Among these corporate giants are Monde Nissin Corp., which bought UK company Quorn for P38.93 billion; International Container Terminal Systems Inc., which operates in various major ports worldwide; Universal Robina Corp., which bought Griffin Food in New Zealand; Emperador Inc., which purchased Fundador Pedro Domecq, Spain’s oldest and largest brandy maker; Max’s, which has restaurants in the US and China; and Jollibee, which operates restaurants in China, the Middle East and the US.□

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