Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – Philippine Board of Investments (BOI) reported that the calibrated reopening of the economy has been resulting in improvement in the unemployment rate reported by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) at 7.7% in May 2021, from 8.7% in April 2021; and the manufacturing index which climbed to 50.8 in June 2021, from 49.9 in May 2021. Just last week it was reported that exports performed remarkably, posting a growth of 72% in April 2021 versus its year-ago figure.

DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez reported that “the latest IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for June 2021 rose to 50.8, as operating conditions improved, with the gradual easing of quarantine, and allowing higher operating capacities in several sectors. The kind of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) imposed during the surge of COVID cases in March and April 2021 is one that relatively allowed more economic activities, allowing several manufacturing and essential sectors to operate, even 100% capacity for exporters and BPOs, to fulfil its export commitments. Quarantine and mobility restrictions focused on non-essential and high-risk social activities.”

“This is a welcome development for our recovering manufacturing sector, which we expect to further improve in the second half of the year, given the accelerated COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the safe and calibrated easing of quarantine restrictions across all sectors,” Lopez added.

Trade Undersecretary and BOI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo said this bodes well “for a multiplier effect resulting in a broad-based multi-sectoral expansion” as the agency maintains its projection of Php1.25 trillion for approved investments for the year, up 10 percent from Php1 trillion last year.

The PMI movement was characterized with “renewed increase in purchasing activity amid softer declines in output and new orders,” according to IHS Markit, which noted that “the uptick was marginal as the country continued to face MECQ and ECQ measures following a rise of COVID-19 cases— on the price front, input costs rose with material shortages, reportedly the main driver of inflation. International demand for Filipino manufactured goods also rose for the second successive month with a rate of growth that was stronger than the historical average.”

“We are looking on the upside, on the back of the latest figures released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) which showed the country’s unemployment rate in May 2021 declined to 7.7%, from 8.7% in April,” Undersecretary Rodolfo said.

The PSA has said that “this is the second-lowest reported since the start of the year, following the 7.1% reported in March 2021. The unemployment rate in May 2021 was lower than the unemployment rate in April 2021 at 8.7 %. This was also lower than the unemployment rate in January 2021 (8.7%) and February 2021 (8.8%).”

Rodolfo also added that the PMI expansion for the first half got its momentum in light of the country’s export figures surging 72.1% as of April 2021 while import data more than doubled to a 140.9% growth in the same month.

The PSA early this month released the latest figures on export sales for April totaling US$5.71 billion in April 2021, compared to US$3.32 billion in April 2020. Imports reached $8.45 billion in the same month, a big improvement from the US$3.51 billion recorded in April last year. Total external trade reached US$14.2 billion in April 2021, representing a 107.5% increase, in contrast to US$6.83 billion in April last year.

All told, exports from January to April 2021 reached US$23.4 billion, a 19% growth from US$19.6 billion in April 2020. Meanwhile, imports were US$34.46 billion for the same period, a 21.9% increase from the US$28.27 billion posted in January-April 2020.

“More than these figures, we are all committed to a strong turnaround in the second half as everything seems to fall into place. The BOI for its part, as the country’s lead investment promotion and industry development agency, will continue to redouble its efforts to attract more foreign investments to “Make It Happen In the Philippines” even while sustaining the recovery across all sectors with more expansions and job generations,” Undersecretary Rodolfo said. ♦

Date of Release: 02 July 2021