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29 March 2010

Philippines: Strong export growth seen as shipments to Japan climb

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An upward adjustment in Philippine exports growth target is most likely following robust growth on the country’s exports to Japan and the strong rebound in the country’s top dollar earner – electronics sector, which 20 percent growth target this year was seen as very conservative, the Manila Bulletin reported.

Trade and Industry Secretary Jesli A. Lapus told reporters that he spoke with Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Makoto Katsura wherein they compared the country’s export performance before and after the implementation of the Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

Lapus did not provide details, but said the matrix showed that the Philippines posted tremendous growth in exports to Japan following the implementation of the JPEPA in which most of the products have been accorded zero tariff rate from the average 15 to 20 percent rate.

On the average Japan used to account for 16.86 percent of the country's total exports, growing at 10.4 percent over the past five years.

“This year the projection is very optimistic,” he said.

He noted that officials from the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, who are also members of the Export Development Council, said the 20 percent exports growth projection for the industry this year is very conservative.

“That’s very conservative because they said that whatever capacity they lost last year as a result of the global financial crisis will not only be recovered this year, but are going to be exceeded,” Lapus said.

Lapus noted that the Philippines will not only benefit from the JPEPA in boosting its exports, but Japanese companies that are based in the country are also exporting to other countries like China.

The strengthening of the peso is not also likely to dampen exports, Lapus said, stressing that exports have continued to post robust growth despite the peso’s strength.

“This is because of the global economic rebound,” he added.

Already, monetary authorities are pushing for the upward revision of the country’s export growth target for this year of between 7 percent and nine percent on back of a strong global economic recovery.

Philippine exports grew by 42.5 percent in January this year from a contraction of 40.6 percent in 2009, indicating a growing pick up in demand as the world continues to recover from the economic crisis.

The National Statistics Office (NSO) reported that the country’s merchandise exports jumped by 42.5 percent to $3.58 billion in January from $2.51 billion in the same month last year.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Augusto Santos said the growth registered in January was the highest year-on-year growth rate posted since April 1995.

The increase could be attributed to the 51.2 percent jump in the shipment of Philippine-made electronic products. Electronics account for about 56.8 percent of the country’s total exports.


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