Philippines: Merchandise export growth remains strong in January
Merchandise exports grew 9.7% in annual terms in January, moderating from December’s revised 21.6% surge (previously reported: +21.4% year-on-year) but remaining strong in light of last year’s tepid performance nonetheless. Shipments abroad moderated across the main export categories in January, as exports of electronic products—which account for more than half of total export revenue—other manufactured goods and agricultural products all moderated. That said, export growth of electronic goods remained above 10% in January.
Imports on the other hand rebounded in January, registering the first expansion in 10 months. This was largely due to a surge in imports of mineral fuels and a modest rebound in imports of capital goods. Conversely, imports of raw materials and intermediate goods, and consumer goods continued to decline.
The merchandise trade deficit narrowed to USD 3.5 billion in January from the USD 3.9 billion shortfall in January 2019, but was larger than the USD 2.5 billion deficit recorded in December.
Despite the solid outturn at the start of the year, momentum in the external sector has likely been spoiled by the coronavirus outbreak, which has hampered Chinese industrial activity, which should show in the data in for the quarter overall. Given the rapidly changing outlook for China and the ASEAN region due to the epidemic, weakness in the external sector seen last year will likely return in the first half of 2020.