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PH exports drop by most in 4 months    4/13/2016 11:05:00 AM    ReadCount:517

The country’s exports dropped anew in February this year, but this time to its lowest in four months as the global economy faces continued sluggish economic recovery and uneven growth.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported yesterday that February exports fell 4.5 percent to $4.31 billion from $4.51 billion in the same month last year due to decline in all commodity groups.
PSA said the negative growth was attributed to the decreases in five major commodities out of the top 10 export commodities for the month. These include articles of apparel and clothing accessories (-44.9 percent), chemicals (-38.5 percent), other manufactures (-15.5 percent), metal components (-13.3 percent), and coconut oil (-5.1 percent).
From January to February, the country’s total exports dropped 4.2 percent from $8.870 billion in same period last year to $8.498 billion.
Meanwhile, electronics and semiconductors, accounting for almost 50 percent of total exports, increased 8.1 percent to $2.13 billion, PSA data showed.
Exports to top destination Japan also fell a marginal 0.3 percent, while shipments to the United States, the second biggest market, were up 1.6 percent. 
Exports to the third biggest market Hong Kong shrank 0.3 percent, while shipments to China, the fourth biggest market, went down 11.6 percent.
Earlier, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said that exports may grow at a slower pace by only five percent this year, lower than the previous forecast of six percent.
“The export performance of most of the trade-oriented economies in East and Southeast Asia continues to reel from weak global demand that is largely influenced by the global economic slowdown,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Emmanuel F. Esguerra said.
“For the Philippines, we see this continuing only within the near term but it remains important for us to set up short-term measures that will support some of our export products,” he added.
Only Viet Nam and Thailand posted positive export gains while China recorded the steepest decline at 25.3 percent during the period.
“As softer external demand is expected over the near term, the Philippines should at least aim for a 5.4 percent growth in merchandise exports, which is the low-end projection of the Export Development Council,” Esguerra said.
“Short-term measures may include providing government support to export products for which demand is growing faster relative to other export segments and where the Philippines has an increasing market share,” he added.
Revenues from manufactured products slightly dropped by two percent to reach $3.7 billion from $3.8 billion in February 2015.
“The drop in exports of manufactured goods reflected the general slowdown experienced by the manufacturing sector around the world. But it is worth noting that overseas sales of our electronic products posted its ninth consecutive month of positive growth,” Esguerra said.
“While current global growth conditions remain tilted to the downside and will continue to affect exports in the short term, the Philippines must take advantage of the opportunity presented by an expected improvement in the economic growth of the ASEAN region,” he noted.
Esguerra added that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in India and the ASEAN region are expected to pick up, which will help balance the slowdown of China.
In particular, the ramping up of investments in Indonesia and the Philippines, Vietnam’s continued expansion, and Thailand’s recovery from a slump in 2014 will prop up growth in ASEAN to 4.5 percent, higher than the 4.4 percent growth estimated in 2015.
“This provides an opportunity for the Philippines to expand its export market in the region. And it is important to ensure that Philippine products conform to export standards so as not to lose market share,” he said.