PH external trade shrinks 60% due to lockdowns


The country’s external trade indicators registered their largest contractions since the 2009 global financial crisis in April due to the government’s quarantine measures that brought the local economy to a near-standstill during the month.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed yesterday that the country’s total external trade in goods plummeted by 60 percent to $6.07 billion in April this year from $15.1 billion in the same month last year.

Of the total external trade, more than half or 54.1 percent were imported goods, equivalent to $3.28 billion. This amount, however, is lower by 65 percent against the $9.45 billion receipts last year.

“This was the highest annual decline recorded since April 2009,” the PSA said, noting top 10 major import commodities all registered decreases led by transport equipment, mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials as well as miscellaneous manufactured articles.

Likewise, the country’s exports, equivalent to 45.9 percent of the total external trade, substantially declined in April by 51 percent to $2.78 billion from P$5.65. billion a year ago.

“This contraction was the highest recorded annual decrease in export sales since January 2009,” the PSA noted.

Largely contributing to the downtrend in April were seven of the top 10 major export commodities, which all registered lower receipts, led by other manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment as well as coconut oil.

On the other hand, the weaker external trade activities brought the nation’s trade deficit narrowing to its lowest in more than five years in April by 87 percent to $499.21 million from $3.8 billion in the previous year.

But electronic products continued to be the country’s top export despite the weaker trade with total earnings of $1.60 billion, accounting for 57.3 percent of the total, but this is lower by 48 percent compared with $3.11 billion last year.

By major trading partner, exports to Hong Kong comprised the highest value amounting to $582.07 million, followed by China with $385.28 million, Japan with $363.4 million, United States with $316.54 million and Singapore with $219.73 million.

Electronic products have also the highest value in the country’s imports in April with $1.3 billion, contributing 39.6 percent to the total. This, however, is smaller by 46 percent compared with $2.4 billion in the same month in 2019.

Amid the ongoing health crisis, import of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies, meanwhile, grew at a faster pace of 38 percent to $20.9 million from only $15.5 million last year.

China, meanwhile, remains the country’s biggest supplier of imported goods with 22.3 percent share to the total imports in April $732.47 million during the month.

The next four major import trading partners were Japan with $357.55 million, South Korea with $299.54 million, United States with $286.13 million and Taiwan with 269.85 million.