BOP surplus at $10 B end-October

Published November 26, 2020, 5:08 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

The Philippines has a balance of payments (BOP) surplus of $10.31 billion for the first 10 months, after a big $3.44 billion surplus in October, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported Thursday.

The end-October BOP surplus was higher compared to same time last year of $5.73 billion. It was supported by the National Government’s (NG) higher net foreign borrowings and lower merchandise trade deficit as well as net inflows from foreign direct investments, remittances and trade in services.

(Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

For this year, the BSP has raised its BOP surplus estimate to $8.1 billion while for 2021, it still expects a surplus position of $3.4 billion. In 2019, the BOP was also in excess of $7.8 billion. The BOP in 2019 was equivalent to 2.1 percent of GDP, while the forecasts for 2020 and 2021 are equivalent to 2.2 percent and 0.9 percent of GDP, respectively.

BOP components such as current account projection was also revised to $6 billion surplus this year from an earlier $1.9 billion deficit forecast. 

In a statement, the BSP said the October only surplus was due to its income from its overseas investments, foreign currency deposits of the NG and inflows from the BSP’s foreign exchange operations.

The BSP also reported its final gross international reserves (GIR) tally of $103.8 billion as of end-October. The GIR is higher than end-September’s $100.44 billion The GIR is considered “adequate external liquidity buffer” which “can cushion the domestic economy against external shocks,” said the BSP. 

Last week, BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said that as far as external accounts are concerned, the worst is over. “These developments in the BOP do not imply that COVID-19 had little impact on the external sector. In fact, the significant surplus in the current account stems from the sizable decline in imports, which outpaced the decline in exports, leading to a narrower trade deficit,” he has said. But, he added that “on a positive note, there is a stark difference between the behavior of the external accounts in the second quarter (the height of the lockdown) and third quarter. It was like night and day, which suggest that the worst is over.”