Cebu exports down 16.36% in first 11 months of 2019

Carlo Lorenciana

CEBU’S shipments to its key export buyers totaled US$190.15 million from January to November 2019, latest data showed.

That is down by 16.36 percent from $230.94 million worth of exports registered in the same period in 2018.

November registered the biggest monthly drop of 26.65 percent to $14.01 million, based on fresh figures furnished by Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc.-Cebu executive director Fred Escalona Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020.

Escalona cited the US, Japan and Korea as Cebu’s top three buyers during the 11-month period.

Exports to the US, Cebu’s top export market, hit $91.89 million in the 11-month period while shipments to Japan and Korea totaled $23.09 million and $9.26 million, respectively.

China came in as Cebu’s fourth top export destination, with shipments to the mainland totaling $8.66 million. Hong Kong was fifth, buying a total of $7.76 million worth of export goods.

Furniture and dried mangoes have remained the strong exports of Cebu.

In the first half of 2019, Cebu exported $3.21 million worth of furniture products.

Dried mango exports in the same six-month period totaled $2.69 million.

Escalona said the export industry suffered in 2019, owing to the continued signs of slump and uncertainties in global trade.

Unless the global outlook improves this year, Escalona said the sluggish growth in exports might persist in 2020.

In the whole 2019, Escalona estimated that Cebu exports would likely contract by 18 to 20 percent.

Cebu’s export slump has been triggered by several external headwinds, including trade tensions and slowing demand from traditional markets.

Escalona said the industry would see a clearer direction once the US and China, the world’s biggest economies, finally come up with their trade deal.

US-China Phase One deal

US President Donald Trump earlier announced he will sign the long-awaited trade agreement with China on Jan. 15, 2020.

The so-called “Phase One” agreement is smaller than the comprehensive deal Trump had hoped for and leaves many of the thorniest issues between the two countries for future talks.

Few economists expect any resolution of “Phase Two” before the presidential election in 2020.

And the two sides have yet to release detailed documentation of the pact, making it difficult to evaluate.

Trump said high-level Chinese government officials will attend the signing on Jan. 15 of “our very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China.”

“At a later date I will be going to Beijing where talks will begin on Phase Two!” Trump said in his tweet.

He did not announce a date for the visit.

Trump recently called off plans for tariff hikes on Chinese goods, citing progress on the deal.

Since the start of the trade war, the two sides have raised import taxes on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of exports, unnerving markets and hurting global economic growth.

Global shares

Global shares were mostly higher on optimism about a US-China trade deal as regional markets opened the New Year’s first day of trading on Jan.2.

The “Phase 1” trade deal calls for the US to reduce tariffs and China to buy larger quantities of US farm products.

France’s CAC 40 rose 0.8 percent to 6,022.63 in early trading, while Germany’s DAX was little changed, inching down less than 0.1 percent to 13,238.78. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.8 percent to 7,604.80.

US shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures gaining 0.4 percent to 28,634. S&P 500 futures were also up 0.4 percent at 3,243.80

Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gained 0.1 percent to 6,690.60, while South Korea’s Kospi lost one percent to 2,175.17. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.1 percent to 28,511.92, while the Shanghai Composite gained 1.2 percent to 3,085.20. Tokyo was still closed for the New Year’s holiday.

China has agreed to boost its US goods imports by $200 billion over two years, a US trade representative said Dec. 13, 2019, when the deal was announced. That includes increased purchases of soybeans and other farm goods that would reach $40 billion a year.

China has also agreed to stop forcing US companies to hand over technology and trade secrets as a condition for gaining access to China’s vast market, demands that had frustrated many US businesses.

In return, the Trump administration dropped plans to impose tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese goods, including many consumer items such as smartphones, toys and clothes.

The US also cut tariffs on another $112 billion of Chinese goods from 15 percent to 7.5 percent. (with AP)