PH trade grows 9.9% in 2017

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Organic Coconut Wraps at a trade fair. Per NEDA chief Pernia, export volumes may increase for agricultural produce by negotiating tariff structures and implementing free trade agreements to bring down tariffs levied on Philippine agricultural exports in major markets.

 File photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

MANILA – Outpacing government estimates, the country’s total trade grew by 9.9 percent in 2017 from 5.8 percent in 2016, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) reported on Friday.



Imports and exports posted 10.2-percent and 9.5-percent growth rates, respectively, exceeding the Development Budget Coordinating Committee’s growth estimates as of December 2017 of 9 percent for imports and 8 percent for exports.



The Philippine Statistics Authority reported the country’s total trade grew by 8.6 percent in December 2017 to USD13.46 billion, from USD12.40 billion registered in the same month in 2016.



Total imports posted hefty year-on-year growth of 17.6 percent to USD8.74 billion last December, as all commodity groups posted increases, outpacing exports, which dropped 4.9 percent to USD 4.72 billion.



NEDA said exports registered a decline only in December 2017, its first since November 2016.

 This brought the country’s trade gap to USD4.02 billion in December 2017 from USD2.47 billion deficit in the same month the previous year.



To arrest the decline in exports, the NEDA underscored the need for the government to continue implementing strategies that would heighten demand for Philippine-made products.



“We need to effectively respond to market trends and consumer preferences worldwide to drive more demand for Philippine-made products,” NEDA Director-General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said in a statement.



Pernia said this can be done by gathering timely and relevant information on emerging demands in potential markets through the help of diplomatic posts and trade attachés.



Moreover, intensified market research and tighter linkages with businesses, malls, and shopping centers abroad would help increase the visibility of Philippine export products.



“To drive export growth, we are also looking at maximizing trade agreements with countries in the region,” he said.



Pernia noted export volumes may increase, especially for banana, coconut, and other agricultural produce by negotiating tariff structures and implementing free trade agreements to bring down tariffs levied on Philippine agricultural exports in major export markets.



For its part, the Department of Trade and Industry has already targeted to increase the marketing of halal food, fashion, and textiles by helping the local halal industry to consolidate and produce better-quality goods.