Trade deficit balloons to $43 B in 2021

Trade deficit ballooned last year as Philippine purchases of goods from abroad outpaced the rise in sales of locally-made products following the further reopening of the economy from quarantine restrictions.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Thursday, Jan. 27, that the country’s trade gap, or the difference between the value of export and import, reached $43.13 billion from January to December 2021.

The full-year trade deficit was 75 percent more than the $24.6 billion gap recorded in the previous year.

In 2021, total imports grew 31 percent to $117.78 billion from $89.81 billion a year earlier. Meanwhile, exports increased by only 14 percent year-on-year to $74.64 billion from $65.21 billion.

Purchases of raw materials and intermediate goods accounted for the largest share to the total imports at $47.94 billion, or 40.7 percent of the total, followed by capital goods at $35.45 billion and consumer goods at $18.83 billion.

People’s Republic of China continued to be the top source of imports for 2021, which also registered a 28 percent rise in purchases to $26.78 billion, or 22.7 percent of the total.

Japan followed as the Philippines purchased $11.1 million worth of goods, up by 29 percent from $8.61 million in 2020. Republic of Korea trailed with $9.34 million, rising from $6.89 million in the previous year.

Other major sources of imports were Indonesia, $8.43 million; United States of America, $7.74 million; Thailand and Singapore, both $6.94 million; Taiwan, $5.76 million; Malaysia, $5.3 million; and Saudi Arabia, $2.17 milion.

Payments for imports from the top 10 sources for the year amounted to $90.53 billion or 76.9 percent of the total.

Meanwhile, electronics, which accounted for 56.9 percent of the total dollar receipts last year, up by 11.9 percent from $37.95 billion to $52.48 billion.

Other manufactured goods were the country's second top earner with $4.54 billion or 26 percent higher than previous year's $3.6 billion.

Sales to the US, comprising 15.9 percent of the total, continued to rise by 18 percent to $11.85 billion last year. Likewise, shipments to China, the second largest market, rose 17 percent to $11.55 billion.

Shipments to Japan and Hong Kong were up 6.8 percent and 7.6 percent to $10.72 billion and $9.9 billion, respectively. The two were the Philippines' third and fourth biggest markets.

Other top markets were the Singapore, $4.19 billion; Thailand, $3.45 billion; Germany, $2.9 million; Republic of Korea, $2.57 billion; Taiwan, $2.52 billion; and Netherlands, $2.25 billion.

Export receipts from the Philippines' top ten markets for 2021 amounted to $61.98 billion or 83 percent of the total.

In December alone, trade deficit reached $5.21 billion, increase of 112.8 percent from $2.45 billion in the same month in 2020.

Imports amounted to $11.48 billion, while exports hit $6.27 billion.