Summary of PH merchandise exports in May 2020 vs May 2021

Philippine exports led the way to the continued expansion of global trade, spurred on by the gradual opening of major economies abroad as it contributed USD 5.89B to total trade or a 29.8% growth for May 2021, over the previous year’s USD 4.54B. This effectively shrunk the Balance of Trade by USD 329.9M from April 2021 figures, even as imports expanded 47.7% as demand for industrial inputs rose due to growing economic activity in the country.

The country’s total sale exports in May 2021 comes after an increase of 74.1% in the previous month.

“We are very optimistic that we can sustain this upward exports performance trajectory as our major trading partners continue opening up their borders and easing travel restrictions, given the success rate in their vaccination drive The same thing here in the country as we rollout the vaccination program and allowed 100% operating capacity even during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and Modified ECQ (MECQ) months of March and April of this year,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.

Chart of year-on-year product gainers in May 2021, measured in millions USD

According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), electronic exports continue to be the Philippines’ top exports with a 61.3% share to total exports, growing at a hefty 22.3%. Fastest growing sectors are Medical/Industrial Instruments (240% growth), Consumer Electronics (216.2%), and Office Equipment (120.5%). Semiconductors, while only managing to grow 11.3%, are still the major contributor to the total electronics exports, with a share of 68.5%, valued at USD2.53 Billion.

Non-electronics products that performed beyond expectations include travel goods and handbags (884.1%), Christmas décor (433.6%), Basketworks (380.7%), ceramic tiles (420.8%), and fine jewelry (390.7%). The trade chief explained that this is an indication of the gradual recovery of the consumer market as more people resume their lives interrupted by the pandemic. Total non-electronics exports expanded 20% year-on-year (YOY).

“As we focus our efforts on the key export sectors of our country, we hope to regain our lost opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic and maintain the momentum of accelerating our export growth,” Sec. Lopez added.

Chart showing percent share of PH's top 10 export markets in May 2021

China continues to be the Philippines’ top market with a market share of 16.2%, amounting to USD 954.3M, with growth tapering to 22.3%. The USA, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore complete the top five markets – comprising 64.8% of total exports to the world. The USA market, in particular, expanded an impressive 84.6%, and if this growth continues, it is poised to overtake China as the Philippines’ top market in succeeding months.

Global trade is expected to further rebound in Q2 according to UNCTAD’s outlook for 2021, largely dependent on subsiding pandemic restrictions. The UN agency expects the fiscal stimulus packages, particularly in developed countries, to strongly support the global trade recovery throughout 2021. Sectors expected to maintain growth include pharmaceuticals, communication and office equipment, minerals, and agri-food.

Date of Release: 9 July 2021