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November 14, 2008

Philippines sees trade deficit soaring in 2009
The Philippines' trade deficit is likely to swell to a record $15.5 billion next year from an estimated $13 billion this year as the global financial crisis dampens demand for the country's exports, Reuters reported, citing central bank documents.

Growth in Philippine exports, equivalent to nearly a third of the economy in expenditure terms, is expected to slow to 1-3 percent next year from 2-4 percent this year, the government said on Wednesday.

The central bank expects total export revenues to reach $50.8-$52.8 billion next year, against a forecast $50.3-$51.3 billion this year, documents obtained by reporters showed.

Imports in 2009 would rise to $65.8-$68.3 billion against estimates of $63.3-$64.5 billion this year due to a weaker peso, according to the documents. The government expects the peso to slide to an average 45-48 per dollar next year compared with 42-45 this year.

On Thursday, the peso fell 1 percent to close at 49.495 per dollar. It is one of the region's major laggards, losing 16.4 percent so far this year.

The World Bank has said global trade volumes would likely fall 2.5 percent in 2009, the first contraction in volume since 1982.

The Philippines recorded a trade deficit of $8.2 billion last year, based on the central bank's balance of payments data.



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