Philippines: Exports plunge at sharpest rate since September 2011 in March
May 6, 2020
Merchandise exports contracted markedly in March, falling 24.9% in annual terms. March’s plunge contrasted February’s 2.8% increase and marked the worst performance in eight-and-a-half years. Exports of electronic products—which account for more than half of total export revenue—fell at the sharpest rate in over seven years, while exports of other manufactured goods such as machinery and transport equipment also declined at a quick clip. Shipments abroad of agricultural products also dropped in March.
Merchandise imports also plummeted in March, declining at the sharpest rate since August 2009 (March: -26.2% yoy; February: -11.6% yoy). A broad-based drop across all types of imports underpinned the headline decline: imports of capital goods; consumer goods; mineral fuels and lubricants; and raw materials and intermediate goods all plunged in the month.
Accordingly, the merchandise trade deficit narrowed to USD 2.4 billion in March from the USD 3.3 billion shortfall in March 2019; however, was wider than February’s USD 1.7 billion deficit.
The external sector will remain crippled this year by the Covid-19 pandemic which has hammered global trade, while collapsed domestic demand amid the strict lockdown will keep imports constrained.
Author: Lindsey Ice, Economist