By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios
Despite the sluggish headstart of the export market during last year when the Philippines was hit by COVID pandemic that led to limited movements of goods, transportation and the entire supply chain ecosystem, the country’s export takes a strong comeback and accelerated in April by 72%.
By allowing 100% operating capacity even during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), coupled with the gradual economic recovery of its major trading partners from the COVID-19 pandemic, Philippine exports in April 2021 were up again, this time by a hefty 72.1%, to USD5.71B from USD3.32B in the same month last year, preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed. The country’s growth rate was the highest among select Asian economies surpassing even that of Japan’s 38.0% and China’s 32.3% growth rates.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez noted that this was the second consecutive month of positive year-on-year (YOY) growth, following the 33.3% revised growth rate in March. Cumulative export earnings from January to April 2021 amounted to USD23.37B, up by 19% from the USD19.63B in the same period in 2020.
“Our latest export growth rate shows that we are steadily recovering from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be considered a solid growth considering that the performance was even stronger than the pre-pandemic levels in 2019, and not just due to the low base in 2020. The recorded amount of USD5.71B for April 2021 was higher than the recorded amount of USD5.65B in 2019.”
Meanwhile, for year-to-date (YTD) exports, or from January to April, 2021 figures still showed improvement, posing USD 23.37B. This is a huge increase compared to the 2020 YTD of USD19.63B and also a growth from the pre-pandemic YTD exports of USD22.23B.
Semiconductors are still the top export product, comprising 42.2% of all exports. Exports of the said product grew by 40.4% YOY.
Out of all the export products, ignition wiring sets for vehicles, aircraft, and ships had the highest growth at 1,237.6%. This was followed by metal components at 345.2%.
Sec. Lopez shared that looking at the total trade data, the YOY doubling in imports of manufacturing inputs such as raw materials and intermediate goods (118.6%) and capital goods (104.8%) also signals that local manufacturing is ramping up.
China was the country’s top export market in the review period, receiving 16.7% of all exports, followed by the US at 15%. Both markets are experiencing brisk economic recoveries, which bodes well for the Philippines.
In April, China’s imports growth reached a decade high of 43.1%, the highest since 2011. In the US, there were 742,000 new jobs in the private sector, with the leisure and hospitality sector opening up and hiring 237,000 workers in the said month.
Other top markets were Japan (14.3%), Hong Kong (12.9%), and Singapore (5.5%). By region, the Philippines exported half of its goods to East Asia.
To maximize the gains from the revival of the global economy, Sec. Lopez mentioned DTI is working to increase market access. He also stated that DTI is pushing for the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year, to open more market opportunities and further boost exports for the country.
“As we gradually and safely reopen our economies both locally and abroad, we are confident that we will see a sustained improvement in our export growth rate this year,” said the trade chief.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the positive outlook for 2021 remains largely dependent on subsiding pandemic restrictions. Nevertheless, the fiscal stimulus packages, particularly in developed countries, are expected to strongly support the global trade recovery throughout 2021.