By Kathleen Bondoc

PHILIPPINE exports posted an 11-percent increase on total sales of $4.782 billion for the month of February 2017, marking its third month of positive growth, a report released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

For February 2017 eight out of 10 top major Philippine exported goods rose, with electronic products comprising 51.6 percent of the total exports revenue amounting to $2.47 billion, compared to $2.131 billion registered in the same period last year.

Other products that increased included cathodes and sections of cathodes of refined copper (946.9 percent); other mineral products (107.5 percent); coconut oil (66.5 percent); electronic equipment and parts (64.9 percent); metal components (29.4 percent); other manufactures (20.1 percent); electronic products (15.9 percent); and chemicals (9.6 percent).

The US topped other Philippine export destinations for the month, accounting for 15.6 percent to total exports with receipts valued at $745.22 million. It was followed by Japan, with a 15.25-percent share, with revenues amounting to $728.35 million.

The increase in February 2017 exports lifted the cumulative value of merchandise exports by 17.36 percent for the first two months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, the PSA report said.

Continued export growth can be attributed to the significant increase of Philippine electronic products by 13.24 percent in the first two months of 2017. This stemmed from the positive performance of six out of nine subsectors of the industry, which contributed a 96.74-percent share in the cumulative total value of the industry.

The Department of Trade and Industry’s Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) noted the increasing efforts of the Philippines to strengthen ties with its Asean neighbors, including China, is expected to sustain the growth of the sector in the coming months.

“Enhancing trade-promotion efforts to huge consumer markets is seen as a viable strategy in sustaining the performance of Philippine exports in the coming months,” DTI-EMB Director Senen M. Perlada said.

As the Philippines serves host for this year’s Asean summit, the country is pushing for the conclusion of the Asean-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations. The RCEP is the free- trade agreement being advocated by the Asean 10 member-states, with their six dialogue partners, including China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and India.

“The RCEP is the chance to balance the country’s trade deficit, especially with China,” Perlada said.

Among selected trade-oriented economies in Asia, the Philippines placed ninth in terms of exports growth, a decline after it placed third last month.  Vietnam topped the list for February 2017 with 29.6-percent recorded exports growth, a significant increase after dropping to among the worst performers for January 2017. •