MAKATI – Amidst a backdrop of the surging COVID-19 pandemic, Philippine merchandise exports grew by 2.8% in February 2020 to USD5.4B from USD5.3B in the same period last year, based on the preliminary Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data. Semiconductors were still the top export product, comprising 75.7% of electronics exports and 41.7% of all merchandise exports.

This was the second consecutive month of positive growth, after the 9.7% growth in January 2020. Cumulatively, merchandise exports grew by 6.1% in the first two months of 2020 to USD11.2B from USD10.5B in the same period a year ago.

The Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) pointed out that for February, six of the top 10 export products recorded positive growth. These were other manufactured goods (45.0%); fresh bananas (29.6%); other mineral products (13.2%); machinery and transport equipment (11.7%); gold (6.0%); and electronic products (3.4%). Majority of export products were still electronic products at 55.1% while non-electronics made up the remaining 44.9%

After posting a 15.8% increase in January, electronics exports grew again in February, albeit at a slower pace, by 9.7%. This was a lot better than the negative 0.5% growth recorded in the same period last year. Meanwhile, exports of non-electronic products rose from a 24-month decline with a 2.0% growth to USD5.0B year-to-date (YTD) from USD4.9B in the same period last year.

In terms of markets, exports grew in seven out of the top 10 markets of the Philippines. Exports to Malaysia grew the biggest at 28.5% YTD to USD340M. This was followed by South Korea with an 18.9% growth to USD490M and Thailand with a 15.3% growth to USD500M.

Exports in the top three markets, namely China, including Hong Kong; Japan; and the US also grew in February, albeit more modestly. These countries made up 57.3% of all Philippine merchandise exports in the review period.

The Philippines was also in the five countries among 11 Asian trade-oriented economies with positive YTD growth. The country ranked 3rd in YTD and 9th in year-on-year (YOY) exports.

However, the stellar performer was Vietnam, which posted a 50% YOY export growth, according to Bloomberg, it can be attributed to shipments of new Samsung S20 phones.

On the other hand, Chinese exports declined the most at 17.3% in February, while it is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In another development, the DTI-EMB is conducting an online survey to PH exporters on the “Impact of COVID on Your Export Business”. The survey seeks to learn and understand the impact of COVID-19 on the exporters’ businesses, with the results to be used as basis for a data-driven recovery plan to be crafted by DTI-EMB for the Philippine export sector.♦

Date of Release: 8 April 2020