Economist: Exchange rate depreciation not necessarily bad

AN ECONOMIST has considered the peso as the most competitive currency now amid its depreciation that benefits even non-exporters.

“Right now, to be honest, we are okay. Why? Because (the) peso depreciated the most since the start of this year. I would rather call that we are the most competitive currency now rather than calling it we are the weakest, worst performing currency,” said Cielito Habito, chairman of Brain Trust Inc.

He said the peso’s depreciation is an “advantage” not only to the export sector but also to others, including families of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and non-exporters like producers who produce for the domestic market and compete with imports.

“... This is something we have to have to change our mindsets and attitudes too. Exchange rate depreciation is not necessarily bad,” added Habito, leader of the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) planning facilitation team.

The local currency weakened to P59 to a US dollar last Oct. 17, the fourth time so far this year. Last Friday, Nov. 4, the peso closed at P58.55.

Under the PEDP 2023-2028 now being drafted, Habito identified avoiding loss of exchange rate competitiveness, especially against currencies of close export competitors, among the areas where the export sector must improve and scale up.

He also cited the need to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement immediately and continue the pursuit of more strategic trade agreements for greater market access.

“The Philippines is a member of only 10 free trade agreements, our neighbors either have 15, 17, 27. Naturally, our exports are not much because we are not even getting market access by taking advantage of these free trade agreements,” he said in a mix of English and Tagalog.Habito said it is also imperative to provide effective and competitive fiscal incentives that compensate for peculiar cost handicaps faced by exporters.

He said the country likewise needs to make lowering energy and power costs an explicit objective in the national energy roadmap. (PHILEXPORT NEWS AND FEATURES WITH KOC)