MANILA: The country’s merchandise exports declined for the 13th consecutive month in April, dropping by 4.1 percent year-on-year to $4.3 billion amid a fragile global economy, the government reported yesterday.
Despite weak exports, manufacturing remained robust, with factory output rising by more than a tenth in the first four months of 2016 on the back of strong domestic demand ahead of the elections, the National Economic and Development Authority said yesterday.
A preliminary Philippine Statistics Authority report showed exports sustaining the monthly drop since April last year. However, the decline in April was the slowest in three months and slower than the 15.1-percent contraction in March, although the value was 7.7-percent lower than $4.6 billion in March.
The organization of the country’s semiconductor manufacturers said electronics products continued to be the country’s top export in April, accounting for 53 percent or $2.258 billion of total export receipts during the month.
This marks a 1.85-percent increase from $2.2 billion in the same month last year, said Dan Lachica, president of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. (Seipi).
In a statement, Economic Planning Secretary Emmanuel F. Esguerra said the “slow pace of global economic recovery has negatively affected trade in most countries.”
“Given this, the country’s export sector will continue to remain sluggish in the coming months as manufactured exports are not expected to significantly contribute to exports growth,” he said.
Esguerra, who is also the Director General of Neda, pointed out that export performance had been improving.
“The recovery in the sales of manufactured products, which grew by 2.1 percent in April, is worth noting,” he said.
Exports of agro-based, forest, mineral and petroleum products contracted “as the weak global economy continued to drag demand from the country’s major trading partners such as the United States and China, the Neda said.
As of the end of April, merchandise exports reached $17.4 billion, down 7.3 percent from $18.7 billion a year ago.
In a report, Seipi’s Lachica said six product sectors saw increases in export receipts in April, such as telecommunication; communication/radar; automotive electronics; electronic data processing; control and instrumentation, and consumer electronics.
These were, however, partially offset by decreases in export receipts for three product sectors: office equipment; medical/industrial instrumentation; and components/devices (semiconductors).
Compared to the previous month, electronic exports reflected a 4.1-percent decline from the $2.356 billion recorded in March this year.
“Five our of nine sectors posted negative growth from the previous month’s figures, led by automotive electronics, consumer electronics. Telecommunication, office equipment, and components/devices (semiconductors),” Lachica said.
Cumulatively, exports of electronic products rose slightly by 3.71 percent to $8.885 billion in the first four months of the year, from the $8.567 billion registered in the same period last year.
For April, the top five market destinations for electronics exports were Hong Kong (18.1 percent); United States (14.1 percent); Singapore (13.7 percent); People’s Republic of China (11.6 percent); and Japan (9.3 percent).
The remaining top 10 markets were Germany (6.7 percent), Taiwan (5 percent), Republic of Korea (3.5 percent), Thailand (3.2 percent) and Netherlands (3.1 percent).