Trade deficit balloons to $5 B in March

Published May 6, 2022, 11:15 AM

by Chino S. Leyco

The country’s trade deficit ballooned further in March as Philippines imported more goods from its trading partners, outpacing the growth in exports of local products following the reopening of the domestic economy from quarantine restrictions.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Friday, May 6, that the country’s trade gap, or the difference between the value of export and import, reached $5 billion in March this year, up 81 percent from $2.76 billion in the previous year.

March trade deficit was also 20 percent more than the $4.171 billion gap recorded the month before.

During the month, total imports grew 28 percent to $12.17 billion from $9.53 billion a year earlier. Meanwhile, exports increased by only six percent year-on-year to $7.17 billion from $6.77 billion.

Rise in the number of imported goods was due to the increase in all of the top 10 major commodity groups, led by medicinal and pharmaceutical products with a 152.5 percent growth.

It was followed by mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials which rose by 148 percent, as well as cereals and cereal preparations that expanded by 35.9 percent.

The People’s Republic of China remained the the country’s biggest supplier of imported goods valued at $2.13 billion or 17.5 percent of the total receipts.

Completing the top five major import trading partners were Japan, $1.24 billion (10.2 percent); Republic of Korea, $1.2 billion (9.8 percent); Indonesia, $1.04 billion (8.5 percent); and US, $869.84 million (7.1 percent).

In the first three-months, total import value amounted to $33.3 billion, up 28 percent from $26.02 billion in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, of the top 10 major commodity export groups of the country, four recorded increases in terms of the value, led by coconut oil (63.9 percent), followed by gold (40 percent), and other mineral products (19.7 percent).

By major trading partner, exports to the People’s Republic of China comprised the highest export value amounting to $1.18 billion or a share of 16.5 percent to the total during the month.

Completing the top five major export trading partners were the US, $1.09 billion (15.2 percent); Japan, $1.04 billion (14.5 percent); Hong Kong, $921.27 million (12.8 percent); and Singapore, $423.67 million (5.9 percent).

At end March 2022, total export earnings reached $19.42 billion, 9.8 percent higher compared with the period last year.