Following the positive pick-up in international merchandise trade since June, PH Merchandise Exports rebounded strongly in September. This was also the first time the growth rate manifested since the onset of COVID-19 in March, bringing back the country’s goods exports to an optimistic recovery trajectory. 

“We are glad to see positive results in our merchandise exports despite the challenges brought by the pandemic to the international trade market. This gives a positive outlook on our economic recovery efforts even as we ensure the market accessibility of our exports to our global trading partners,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez. 

He also added, “We should remember that before the pandemic, our export performance was relatively strong already. It posted a positive growth last year and even into January and February this year, while other countries around us were posting a decline in their exports.” 

September exports registered a positive 2.2% increase, from the revised negative growth rate of 12.8% recorded in the previous month, preliminary Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed. 

“As the country continues to open up its economy again, easing up travel restrictions but still observing health protocols for workers, merchandise exports could be on its sustained uptrend for the rest of the year,” the trade chief said.   

DTI Undersecretary Abdulgani Macatoman reported that the positive performance was mainly contributed by the following major groups: cathodes and sections of cathodes, of refined copper (133.9%); other mineral products (73.3%); and metal components (32.9%).  

Moreover, the positive year-on-year (YOY) exports to 7 out of the Top 10 major PH export destinations, namely, Thailand (21.9%), combined markets of China and Hong Kong (17.6%), Singapore (9.1%), Germany (7.7%), the Netherlands and Taiwan (3% each), and Japan (0.7%); provided the much-needed impetus for PH exports. This somehow eased the year-to-date (YTD) growth rate to negative 13.8% from negative 16.6% posted in the first eight months of 2020”. 

In value terms, the YOY figure translates to USD6.2B from USD6.1B in the same period last year. In YTD terms, merchandise exports amounted to USD45.9B compared to the USD53.2B recorded during the same period last year.  

In the past PH export performances, Electronics accounted for over half of the total merchandise exports (57.2%) in the review period, while Non-electronics comprised the remaining 42.8%.  

Exports of Electronics decreased by 11.4% in the first nine months from the 14.0% decline in the first eight months of the year to USD26.2B from USD29.6B in the same period in 2019.  

Consistently the top PH merchandise and electronics exports, Semiconductors still get the biggest share of the total Electronics exports at 76.8% and 44.0% of total PH merchandise exports. However, its total exports went down to USD20.2B in Jan-Sept 2020. Same applies to the Non-Electronics’ export sales, which continued to decline in the first nine months by 16.8% from USD23.6B last year. 

Top performers in the current review period in terms of the difference in value were Textile Yarns/Fabrics, where surgical masks fall under, USD72.0M; Mineral Products, USD66.0M; Petroleum Products, USD22.7M; Furniture and Fixtures, USD20.3M; and Basketwork, USD6.0M. This was the second consecutive time that Basketwork figured in the gainer category since COVID-19 reached the country in March. 

In terms of exports to the top trading partners, whereas Japan was the only one recording a positive YOY in the last review period, seven major PH markets posted positive YOY growth rates in September. The gainers were led by Thailand, which posted a 21.9% increase, and the combined markets of China and Hong Kong with a 17.6% change. Meanwhile, YOY exports to Japan were still on the optimistic side but at a slower pace of 0.7%, the least positive growth rate among the gainers. 

The overall good YOY performance, however, was not enough to offset the negative showing in terms of YTD as all top 10 major markets still posting decreases. The top three biggest decliners were Korea (25.0%), the US (21.6%), and the Netherlands (19.1%). 

Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) Director Senen Perlada shared that the Philippines is still participating in business matching sessions with top trading partners like China through the China International Import Expo in November.  

The DTI-EMB is also pursuing non-traditional trading partners with smaller business matching sessions with the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, among others.  

DTI-EMB also cited the top concerns raised during the Philippine Export Development Plan regional consultations with exporters last September that need to be addressed. Their top concerns include access to credit, streamlining regulatory requirements, and market access. ♦

Date of Release: 5 November 2020