ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
PHL trade gap widens 62.76% to $4.02B in Dec. 2017
The Philippine balance of trade in goods widened by 62.76 percent in December 2017 from a year earlier on the back lower exports, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority on Friday showed.
The balance of trade in goods registered a $4.02-billion deficit, from $2.47 billion year-on-year, the statistics office said.
A deficit indicates that the value of the country’s imports exceeded export receipts.
Total exports dropped 4.9 percent to $4.72 billion from $4.97 billion.
Total imports increased by 17.6 percent to $8.74 billion from $7.43 billion.
To drive growth in exports, the National Economic and Development Authority said that the government must continue to implement strategies that would heighten demand for Philippine-made products.
“We need to effectively respond to market trends and consumer preferences worldwide to drive more demand for Philippine-made products,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a separate statement.
He prescribed gathering timely and relevant information on emerging demands in potential markets with the help of diplomatic posts and trade attachés.
Intensified market research and tighter linkages with businesses, malls and shopping centers abroad would help increase the visibility of Philippine export products, the Pernia said. “To drive exports growth, we are also looking at maximizing trade agreements with countries in the region.”
NEDA said merchandise trade for the whole of 2017 grew by 9.9 percent from a 2016. PSA data showed total trade for 2017 reached $155.535 billion from $141.514 billion in the same comparable period.
Pernia said export volumes may increase especially banana, coconut, and other agricultural produce by negotiating tariff structures and implementing free trade agreements to bring down tariffs on Philippine agricultural exports in major markets.
The Department of Trade and Industry has targeted to increase marketing for halal food as well as fashion and textiles by helping the local halal industry consolidate and produce better-quality goods.
“On the domestic front, the Philippine economy is also set to maintain an upward momentum with higher infrastructure spending on account of the Build, Build, Build program. With improved infrastructure landscape, we could reduce the cost of doing business,” Pernia said.
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority and the Board of Investments expect expanding confidence and interest among investors this year, particularly in upstream industries like cement, steel, shipbuilding and petrochemicals.
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