Imports, exports down in September 2019
The country's exports and imports went down in September, bringing total trade down by 7.5% during the month.
The Philippine Statistics Authority announced on Wednesday, November 6, that exports went down by 2.6% to $5.9 billion, while imports dropped by 10.5% to $9 billion.
The total external trade in goods amounted to $14.9 billion, while the trade deficit narrowed by 22.5% to $3.1 billion. The September trade gap brings the year-to-date deficit to $28.1 billion, wider by 9% from the $24.97-billion gap in 2018.
The decrease in exports was primarily due to lower export sales of 7 of the 10 major export commodities of the Philippines. Metal components (-25.8%), apparel and clothing accessories (-20.7%), and machinery and transport equipment (-20%) posted the sharpest declines.
Meanwhile, imports went down as the country got less iron and steel (-46.8%), cereals (-22%), and mineral fuels, lubricants, and other related materials (-14.5%).
Japan was the Philippines' top trading partner, posting exports worth $957 million or 16.2% to the total exports in September.
China was the biggest supplier of imported goods, with import payments reaching $2.1 billion – equivalent to 23.6% of the total imports during the month.
ING Bank Manila chief economist Nicholas Mapa sees an upside despite the pullback in imports and positive run of exports until the September reversal.
He argued that even though net trade is still in deficit, the trade sector could provide a boost to 3rd quarter economic growth.
"For the quarter, 3Q 2019 saw a 24% improvement from the same period in 2018 and this development should help bolster year-on-year 3Q 2019 [gross domestic product]," Mapa said.
He added that the September trade figures show some green shoots for the return of investment activity.