Influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s exports of medical instrumentation jumped 84.3 percent in January, boosting overall electronics exports to slightly grew by 0.3 percent in the first month of the year, the Department of Trade and Industry said.
Electronics exports grew by 0.3 percent to $3.24 billion in January 2021, compared with the same month last year. Aside from the strong growth in medical instrumentation, consumer electronics also posted significant growth. These are electronic data processing, and control & instrumentation, which grew by 28.2 percent, 24.4 percent, and 8.9% percent, respectively.
These new export sectors made up for the decline in semiconductor exports, which comprise 73.2 percent of all electronics exports and 43.2 percent of all merchandise exports, slipped by 4.4 percent in the said period. This brings the overall merchandise exports to a 5.2 percent decline to $5.49 billion in January 2021 from $5.79 billion in January 2020.
“Philippine export trends were heavily influenced by the pandemic, from medical instrumentation for hospitals to consumer electronics for workers who had to work from home. As more markets open up, we are also looking forward to exporting more products,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
For non-electronic products, basketwork doubled its sales to $5.61M in January 2021 compared to the same month in 2020. Sales of chemicals; iron and steel; and textiles also grew by 44.3 percent, 30.9 percent, and 27.3 percent, respectively.
The worldwide travel restrictions also affected exports of travel goods and handbags, which posted a 45.6 percent decline in the review period. Likewise, the garments exports and footwear exports also shrunk by 22.8 percent and 25.8 percent, respectively.
The US was still the Philippines’ top export market with 15.6% of all exports, followed by Japan (14.7%) and China (14.6%). However, out of the top 10 markets, only exports to China, Thailand, and Taiwan increased compared to January of last year.
Lopez encouraged Philippine exporters to avail themselves of the benefits from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), signed in November 2020, to increase exports to these countries. Seven of the country’s top 10 export markets, namely Japan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, and Korea are RCEP-members.
“All the RCEP participating countries took years to negotiate the largest trade deal in the world. Now that it’s signed, the Department of Trade and Industry will now focus on assisting exporters to fully utilize its benefits,” said Lopez.
The regional free trade agreement will promote greater openness, create a more business-friendly environment, encourage closer integration of economies, and provide a more stable and predictable rules-based system of trade.