MANILA: The Philippines’ total external trade in goods in January 2018 totaled 13.75 billion U.S. dollars, posting a positive growth of 7.0 percent from 12.85 billion U.S. dollars recorded in January 2017, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Friday.
The PSA said the total exports grew by 0.5 percent to 5.22 billion U.S. dollars in January 2018 from 5.19 billion U.S. dollars in January 2017.
Meanwhile, the total imports increased by 11.4 percent to 8.54 billion U.S. dollars in January 2018 from 7.67 billion U.S. dollars in January 2017.
The PSA said the country’s balance of trade in goods (BoT-G) expanded to a 3.32 billion U.S. dollars deficit in January 2018, higher than the 2.47 billion U.S. dollars deficit in January 2017.
“With the global economy still set for a higher growth trajectory in 2018, the Philippines is off to a good start. However, it is essential for the national government to continue on its initiatives to support exports growth,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.
Pernia said the government is targeting an 8-percent growth in merchandise exports for 2018, supported by a revival of the agribusiness sector.
“To achieve this, the Philippines needs to build up integrated industries that would generate higher value addition, especially for key products such as bananas, cacao, coffee, mangoes, and rubber as well as for other emerging high value crops,” Pernia said.
In maintaining greater market access, Pernia said diplomatic posts play a big role by regularly providing relevant information on emerging products that the Philippines can supply to potential markets.
“Moreover, greater market access can be achieved through bilateral and multilateral deals, such as continued exploratory talks of the Department of Trade and Industry with the United States for a foreign trade agreement or an extension of the U.S. Generalized System of Preference (GSP) initiative, which expired last year,” Pernia noted.
Under the U.S. GSP program, around 75 percent of the Philippine products may enter the U.S. market duty-free.