For the first time, Philippines electronics exports reached $40 billion with a 4.4% growth year-to-date as the country’s exports reached a record-high of $70.3 billion in 2019 from $69.3 last year despite external headwinds from the global trade policy uncertainties, geopolitical tensions, and country-specific challenges.
The electronics sector comprised of 56.9% of total exports, with non-electronic products making up the remaining 43.1% at $30.3 billion, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
“The relatively strong export performance of the Philippines transpired amid DTI’s strong efforts in attracting investments, spurring MSME development, and promoting the ease of doing business,” said DTI secretary Ramon Lopez.
Growing at 1.5% year-to-date, the country’s export growth is also the second-best performer among East Asian economies, next to Vietnam. The Philippines, China, and Vietnam were the only three countries that reported positive export performance among 11 trade-oriented Asian economies last year.
“Our goal was to expand the productive capacity and export base as well as in actively enhancing trade relations with existing partner economies, by marketing products abroad and exploring new export markets,” the trade chief said.
The top four destinations for Philippine merchandise items last year were the US, Japan, China, and Hong Kong. Lopez said that curbing inflation via aggressive price monitoring activities has also contributed in making locally-made products attractive internationally.
In December 2019, the Philippines was also the top performer with a 21.4% year-on-year growth, the fastest pace in 2019. This was largely on the back of a 24.9% jump in electronic exports, which accounted for 60% of merchandise exports in December.
Other top export items for the month that also recorded growth include bananas, chemicals, copper metal, machinery and transport equipment, among others.
Meanwhile, Philippines’ merchandise imports decreased 4.8% to $107.4 billion in 2019. As the full-year’s export growth was positive and import growth negative, the country’s merchandise trade deficit narrowed 14.9% to $37.0 billion.
According to Lopez, this bodes well for the country’s external position since a smaller trade deficit would lead also to a narrowing of the country’s current account deficit.