MANILA: Philippine exports weathered a slowdown in external demand in June to register a strong first semester performance reflecting growth of 14%, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez reported Thursday. “We always ensure that exports are both resilient and diversified in terms of products and markets,” the Department of Trade and Industry chief said. Total merchandise exports for the period January to June 2017 stood at USD31.04 billion, expanding by 14% over the USD27.33 billion posted during the same period in 2016. The expansion is seen almost among all the country’s major export markets, with the People’s Republic of China (including Hong Kong SAR) as the country’s top export destination, followed by Japan and the United States, according to him.
Preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the 15% growth of Non-electronics exports outpaced the 12.05% rise in Electronics, accounting for a near-equal ratio of 50.1% and 49.9%, respectively, of total merchandise exports. “The stronger performance of Non-Electronics products vis-à-vis Electronics reflects DTI’s efforts to diversify merchandise exports and improve market mix,” Lopez pointed out. For the first semester of 2017, receipts of the following non-electronics increased: Mineral products (81%), Chemicals (11%), Coconut (78%), Footwear (70%), Furniture & Fixtures (43%), Processed Food & Beverages (29%), Machinery & Transport Equipment (24%), Garments (23%), Travel Goods and Handbags (8%), and Iron and Steel (4%).
DTI Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BOI) Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo confirmed that non-electronics have been accounting for a bigger share of total exports from an average of 40% in 2006-2010 to a 54% average in 2011-2016. “DTI has been partnering with relevant agencies, industry associations as well as specific exporters in improving PH leadership in certain sectors such as in activated carbon, oleochemicals, bananas, pineapples, tuna, and carrageenan/seaweeds and other algae, where assistance to improve quality and quantity of supply is top-most of the agenda,” said Usec. Rodolfo. DTI said it has also created a more conducive exporting environment for sectors that have crossed, or iare close to crossing, the USD 1-billion value of exports such as travel goods, handbags, footwear and apparel, aircraft parts, coconut, transport services, construction materials such as builders’ joinery and carpentry of wood including wood panels.
The expansion of Philippine exports can be seen in almost all of PH’s export partners, with PROC (including Hong Kong SAR) being top export destination. This was followed by Japan, the United States, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Germany, The Netherlands and Taiwan. Philippine shipments to almost all these country destinations increased. According to Usec. Rodolfo, it is worth noting that currently, ASEAN and East Asian neighbors accounted for about 63% of total PH exports, while the US and the European Union (EU) accounted almost equally for 14.7% and 14.9%, respectively, as a result of Manila’s pursuit of active trade relations as opportunities arose from ASEAN’s free trade agreements with China, Korea, Australia and India. “We have been seeing in recent years the gradual shift in market distribution leading to a balance in market diversity,” said Secretary Lopez.