Home / Business / Exports fell 15% to $4.6b in March on weak demand

Exports fell 15% to $4.6b in March on weak demand

Merchandise exports tumbled 15 percent in March to $ 4.61 from $ 5.43 billion a year ago, as the fragile global economy led to lower demand for garments, chemicals, agriculture and mineral products, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Wednesday. 

This marked the 12th straight month of contraction and the steepest fall since the 15.5-percent decline recorded in September 2015.

The March figure brought total exports in the first quarter to $ 13.109 billion, down 8.4 percent from $ 14.304 billion registered in the same three-month period a year ago. 

The National Economic and Development Authority said the country should look at non-traditional export destinations and products to widen its market base as the weak global economy continued to pull down merchandise exports. “It’s a necessary step in the midst of a challenging global economy. The country’s traditional trade partners continue to post subdued growth, global trade is not expected to pick up soon and China’s slowdown is impinging upon overall growth in emerging economies,” said Economic Planning Secretary Emmanuel Esguerra.

Neda said among 11 selected Asian economies, only Vietnam, China and Thailand posted positive export gains, while the Philippines saw the steepest decline during the period. Lower revenues from several major trading partners also dragged down exports in March 2016.

“To be able to reach out to other potential export markets and sell our products, it is crucial to ease government regulation and strengthen market intelligence gathering in partnership with the private sector. We also need to maximize the opportunities in trade agreements and economic groupings particularly within the Asean region,” Esguerra said.

Esguerra said Philippine exports needed to grow by at least 8.3 percent in the next three quarters to attain the low-end forecast by the Export Development Council of 5.4-percent growth for 2016.

Data showed total earnings from manufactured products dropped 11.1 percent in March to $ 4 billion from $ 4.5 billion in the same period last year. “This is a reflection of a general slowdown in the global manufacturing sector. On the upside, wood manufactures, and iron and steel posted positive growth rates in March 2016. Electronic exports also reached its tenth consecutive month of positive growth during the period,” said Esguerra.

Chemicals and articles of apparels and clothing accessories recorded the biggest fall of 40.7 percent to $ 130.73 million and 52.2 percent to $ 92.42 million, respectively. 

Exports of agro-based products fell 40 percent to $ 245.40 million while mineral  shipments decreased 36.7 percent to $ 215.70 million.

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