The partial recovery of the country’s merchandise trade reflected the gradual and calibrated reopening of the economy following the strict lockdowns in the second-quarter, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In an economic bulletin, Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran, said the contraction in merchandise trade continued to slow down from its deepest level of -59.5 percent in April to -18.6 percent in July this year.
Beltran noted that merchandise trade partially recovered in the subsequent months since the lowest negative growth in April, with -35.3 percent in May, and -18.7 percent in June.
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said the government needs to sustain the gradual and calibrated opening of the economy while ensuring strict compliance to health and safety standards to support the economic recovery.
Aside from merchandise trade, Beltran, who is also the DOF chief economist, also pointed out that the Philippines Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) hit its highest reading since February at 50.1 percent last month.
PMI is an economic indicator d-rived from monthly surveys of private companies. An index reading above 50 indicates that the economy is gene-ally growing, while below 50 an overall contraction.
“Good macroeconomic fundamentals have cushioned the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. A prudent, calibrated reopening of key sectors of the economy will be key to the recovery of the economy in general and trade in particular,” Beltran said.
The finance official, meanwhile, said that the government should continue pursuing fundamental structural reforms through the passage of key proposed legislations of the Duterte administration.
These DOF-backed measures are the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) bill, and Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA).
Beltran also pushed for the amendments to the Commonwealthera Public Service Act and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.“Looking ahead, the Philippines should adopt economic reforms, in addition to its infrastructure pro-gram, to attract more investments,” Beltran said.
“These measures can help the country weather and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.”
“Furthermore, improvements in ease of doing business improvements will also be important in adapting to the new normal,” he added.