Philippines: Merchandise trade deficit widens on soaring imports in September
Merchandise exports contracted 2.6% year-on-year in September, failing to rally despite a weaker peso. The decline was in contrast to the 3.1% expansion in August and came on the back of a fall in exports in six of the top ten commodity categories. Exports of coconut oil, and machinery and transport equipment both fell by over 30% in September. However, losses were partially offset by soaring banana exports.
Growth in imports skyrocketed in September, expanding 26.1% year-on-year. This was an acceleration from the 11.0% expansion logged in August. All of the top 10 commodity categories posted double-digit growth in September. Notably, raw materials and intermediate goods, and capital goods imports accounted for the largest share of the overall import value, due to the government’s infrastructure investment push.
Overall, the merchandise trade deficit widened to USD 3.9 billion in September from a USD 1.7 billion deficit in the same month of last year (August 2018: USD 3.5 billion).