Trade gap widens in November

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Surging imports and lackluster exports further widened the country’s trade imbalance, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Thursday.

“The country’s total external trade in goods in November 2018 reached $15.04 billion, reflecting an increase of 4.1 percent from $14.45 billion recorded value during the same month of the previous year,” the PSA said.

Data show total exports in November 2018 were valued at only $5.57 billion, a 0.3 percent slip from recorded $5.58 billion in November 2017.

The PSA said the decline resulted from reduced export sales from four of the country’s top commodities, namely chemicals, ignition wiring and other wiring sets used in vehicles, aircrafts and ships, electronic products and coconut oil decelerating by 16.9 percent, 14.9 percent, 1.6 percent and 1.3 percent respectively.

On annual basis, the November 2018 imports posted growth averaging 6.8 percent to $9.47 billion, driven higher by growth in the Philippines’ top 10 major import commodities led by cereal and cereal preparations by 113.5 percent followed by mineral fuels and other related materials of another 34.1 percent.

With these figures, the balance of trade in goods increased to a $3.90 billion deficit during the month compared to only $3.28 billion in the same month in 2017.

ING senior economist Nicholas Mapa said this could continue in the succeeding months as imports on both capital machinery and raw materials further widen the 11-month trade gap to $37.69 billion.

“With both the government and corporates doubling down on this capital-intensive growth, wide trade gaps will likely be the norm in the medium term,” Mapa said.

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