The country's merchandise exports reached a record $51.994 billion as of year-end 2012, breaking the previous high of $51.5 billion registered in 2010 and posting a 7.6-percent growth over the $48.3-billion exports posted in 2011, the National Statitics Office (NSO) reported yesterday.
This came on the back of expanded markets opened by free-trade agreements signed by the Philippines with preferred trade partners in the ASEAN and other neighboring countries such as China, Japan, Korea, and Australia-New Zealand, and despite the continued economic slowdown among its major traditional markets such as the US, Japan and the European Union.
Meanwhile, record showed that volume of outward shipments had a positive year-on-year performance of 94.8 percent and 29.7 percent compared to last month's outward shipments.
The NSO said that exports rose 16.5% in December from a year earlier to $3.97 billion, thanks to increased shipments of woodcraft, metal components, ignition wiring, petroleum products, and bananas.
December was the fourth straight month of gains after exports dipped 9.0% in August.
December's exports tally was up 11.8% from November's total of $3.55 billion. Exports in the year earlier period totaled $3.41 billion.
Shipments of electronic products, the Philippines' main export item, fell 5.5% in December to $1.51 billion from $1.59 billion a year earlier. They were also below the $1.73 billion of shipments in November.
Japan, the United States, EU and China remained the major markets for the country's exports.
According to Adrian Cristobal Jr., Undersecretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy of the Department of Trade and Industry, the remarkable export performance in 2012 was also boosted by the country's product-diversification program that highlighted the export of machinery and transport equipment, woodcraft and furniture, and fruits and vegetables.
The report on the country's 2012 export figures comes in time for the dual goal of inclusive growth and job creation of the Philippine Development Plan which will be highlighted during the Philippine Economic Briefing that will be held today.
A report of the National Statistics Office showed that the Philippines' export receipts were boosted by the 89.23-percent sales growth of the machinery and transport equipment that rose from the $2.806 billion it posted in 2011 to the $5.31-billion sales it made last year.
Other notable gainers in 2012 include the following product sectors; woodcraft and furniture products whose export sales went up by 26.6 percent to $2.34 billion during the January to December, 2012 period from the $1.848 billion the product subsector registered in the whole of 2011; petroleum products which went up by 12.43 percent to $44.2 billion from $2.8 billion; fruits and vegetables that rose 22.15 percent from $984 million to $1.2 billion; other electronics (such as telecommunications, office equipment, and control and instrumentation) that gained 68.08 percent from $1.447 billion to $2.43 billion; and wood manufactures that reached $2.16 billion from $1.682 billion.
According to Cristobal, the highly significant growth of the country's exports last year was achieved "despite the 5.5-percent decline of the electronics sector year-on-year [YOY] and 13.2-percent downtrend month-on-month [MOM]."
Electronic products have traditionally carried the country's export achievements every year. Philippine exports of semiconductors, which declined by 1.76 percent for the whole of 2012 compared to 2011, were slightly better than global sales. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), worldwide semiconductor sales for 2012 reached $291.6 billion, the industry's third-highest yearly total ever but a decrease of 2.7 percent from the record total of $299.5 billion set in 2011.
The country's product exports also registered a hefty growth in December 2012, reaching a total value of $3.97 billion. This represented a YOY growth of 16.5 percent and a MOM uptrend of 11.8 percent.
High growth was achieved by the following product groups in December last year: fresh bananas, 155.5 percent; petroleum products, 137 percent; metal components, 116.3 percent; tuna, 51.9 percent; woodcraft and furniture, 48 percent; and, ignition wiring and other wiring sets used in automotive vehicles, aircraft and ships, 14.7 percent.
Decliners included articles of apparel and clothing accessories, down 18 percent; coconut oil, 6 percent; and electronics, 6.6 percent.