MANILA – The trade deficit in the country increased to USD4.93 billion in March, as imports outpaced exports, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
In a report released on Tuesday, the PSA said the trade deficit during the month was higher by 7.5 percent than the USD4.5 billion recorded a year ago.
Total external trade in goods amounted to USD17.98 billion, a decline of 5.1 percent from the USD18.95 billion seen in the same period last year.
The total value of exports amounted to USD6.53 billion, down by 9.1 percent from the USD7.18 billion in March 2022, while the total value of imports reached USD11.46 billion in March 2023, down by 2.7 percent from USD11.76 billion a year ago.
Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation chief economist Michael Ricafort said: “The country has been importing a lot since that free trade agreements (FTAs) for more than 10 years already.”
Ricafort expressed belief that the country needs to increase local production, especially for manufacturing and agriculture, to improve productivity of these sectors.
“(This) also boost(s) the country export capacity and competitiveness,” he said.
Meanwhile, the PSA attributed the country’s lower total export sales in March 2023 to the drop in several commodity groups led by electronic products, coconut oil, travel goods and handbags, miscellaneous manufactured articles and other manufactured goods.
Electronic products continued to be the country’s top exports with earnings amounting to USD3.49 billion, followed by other mineral products with USD385.35 million, and other manufactured goods which amounted to USD351.17 million.
Top export destinations during the month were the People’s Republic of China, Japan, United States, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The PSA also traced the decline in total imported goods during the month to the drop in the imports of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials, electronic products, medicinal and pharmaceutical products, organic and inorganic chemicals and animal and vegetable oils and fats.
“People’s Republic of China was the country’s biggest supplier of imported goods valued at $2.57 billion or 22.4 percent of the country’s total imports in March 2023,” it said.
Other top sources of imports were Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Thailand. (PNA)