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June 26, 2008

Central bank of Philippine sees 2008 trade deficit at $11bn
The Philippines' trade deficit this year is set to expand by a third to about $11
billion, the highest in at least 9 years, on higher fuel and rice imports and weaker
exports, Reuters reported, quoting the central bank documents.

The new forecast exceeds an earlier estimate of a $9.31 billion gap set in May and
the $8.24 billion deficit last year.

The central bank also cut its estimate for this year's current account surplus to
$4.2 billion, or 2.3 percent of gross domestic product, from an earlier forecast of
$6.9 billion surplus or 3.8 percent of GDP, the documents showed.

The Philippines' trade deficit ballooned to $2.6 billion in the first four months of
this year from a shortfall of $8 million in the same period last year, government
data on Wednesday showed.

The Philippines imports nearly all its crude oil and is the world's biggest importer
of rice.

Total export receipts this year are likely to reach $52.3 billion, up just 5 percent
from 2007, largely due to a slowdown in the Philippines' main export market, the
United States, the central bank documents showed.

The central bank earlier estimated exports growth at 6 percent this year, broadly
the same pace as last year.

Total imports were likely to hit $63.3 billion this year, up 10 percent from 2007 on
higher rice and fuel purchases and higher than an earlier estimate of 7 percent
growth.

The central bank will present all its new trade forecasts for approval by a
government committee tasked to set the country's macro-economic targets.

 
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