Trade deficit narrows as imports, exports slowed

Published March 12, 2021, 1:11 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The country’s trade deficit narrowed in the first month of the year due to lower imports and exports, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed on Friday, March 12.

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The gap in the trade balance, or the difference between the value of export and import, declined by 31 percent in January this year to $2.42 billion from $3.5 billion in the same month last year.

The reduction in trade deficit was seen after both imports and exports contracted by 15 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively.

The total export sales reached $5.5 billion in January, lower compared with $5.79 billion a year ago.

Of the top 10 major exports in terms of value, four recorded annual decreases led by fresh bananas (-46.9 percent), other manufactured goods (-12.8 percent); machinery and transport equipment (-11.9 percent), and coconut oil (-11.7 percent).

By commodity group, electronic products continued to be the country’s top export with total earnings of $3.24 billion, accounting for 59.1 percent of the total in January 2021, followed by other manufactured goods with $292.7 million.

By major trading partner, exports to United States comprised the highest value amounting to $854.43 million or a share of 15.6 percent to the total.

Completing the top five major export trading partners were Japan, $806.04 million (14.7 percent); People’s Republic of China, $800.06 million (14.6 percent); Hong Kong, $711.77 million (13 percent); and Thailand, $291.93 million (5.3 percent). 

Meanwhile, total import receipts in January maintained its downward trend to $7.91 billion from $9.3 billion in the same month in 2020.

The drop in imports was due to the decrease in nine of the top 10 major import commodities. 

The rate of decline was fastest in industrial machinery and equipment (-36.9 percent), followed by transport equipment (-36.8 percent); and mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials (-33.6 percent).

Most of the imported goods were electronic products with $2.34 billion, equivalent to 29.6 percent to the total, followed by mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials with $681.74 million; and transport equipment with $565.08 million.

By major type of goods, imports of raw materials and intermediate goods accounted for the largest share of $3.20 billion (40.4 percent), while capital goods ranked second with $2.59 billion (32.7 percent), followed by consumer goods with $1.41 billion (17.9 percent).

China was still the country’s biggest supplier of imported goods valued at $1.93 billion or 24.4 percent of the total.

Completing the top five major import trading partners were Japan, $667.77 million (8.4 percent); Indonesia, $526.71 million (6.7 percent); Republic of Korea, $524.84 million (6.6 percent); and United States, $518.39 million (6.6 percent).