Industry seeks ways to sustain export momentum
Business World
December 5, 2016

THIS WEEK’S National Export Congress plans to bring together stakeholders involved in foreign trade in a bid to build on the momentum enjoyed by exports in the last two months.

Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president of Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc.(Philexport), said in a phone interview that topping the agenda is how members can ride the export recovery.

“The last two months, exports have recovered from the slowdown. We are positive. The speakers at the Congress will be focused on what can be done” to extend the recovery, he said in a phone interview on Dec. 3.

The Export Development Council (EDC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Philexport will host the Congress starting Dec. 7 under the theme “Advancing SMEs through Inclusive Business: from Local to Global. The venue is the Philippine Trade Training Center in Pasay City.

National Exporters Week is typically celebrated in early December, as provided for by Presidential Proclamation 931, series of 1996 and House Resolution No.33. During the week, both the public and private sector reaffirmed their commitment to export promotion and development.

Merchandise exports showed signs of recovery in August, and grew for the first time in 17 months in September.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, merchandise exports fell 4.4% to P4.9 billion in August 2016, easing from the year-earlier decline of 6.3% to P5.13 billion.

On the other hand, outbound shipments in September rose 5.1% to P5.21 billion this year after falling 15.2% a year earlier to P4.96 billion.

When asked if Mr. Ortiz-Luis sees a need to review export targets because of these developments, he said he would have to see if this improvement continues until next year.

“Starting next year, if there is an indication that there is such a) trend, we’ll probably evaluate what the target will be.”

EDC, which monitors and regulates export targets, has maintained its growth targets for both goods and services for 2016 and 2017 at 3%, but has not ruled out the possibility that both years may not see any growth at all.

Composed of officials from both the government and the private sector, the EDC in July revised its 2016 and 2017 targets for total exports to 3% for both years from previous forecasts of 6.6-8.8% and 7.7-10.6% respectively.

According to a Sept. 20 news release on EDC’s Web site, the 3% targets set in July took into account the positive contribution expected from services that was to offset the flat performance projected for goods.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) revised in September its global trade growth forecast to 1.7% for 2016 — down from an April estimate of 2.8% — the slowest pace since the financial crisis struck more than half a decade ago.

Moreover, the WTO cut its 2017 projection to a range of 1.8-3.1% from 3.6% previously, citing weakness in key regions and rising protectionism across the globe.□