Exporters urged to tap India; 6% growth target ‘an uphill climb’

Johanna Marie O. Bajenting

THE Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) remains hopeful the export industry will still hit its growth target of six percent for 2019 despite the global and domestic factors that is causing its decline.

Philexport president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., in a speech during the Powwow 2019, urged exporters to bank on new markets following economic issues in the country’s top export markets brought about by the US-China trade war, Hong Kong protest, European Union’s (EU) Brexit and the Japan-Korea trade issue.

“We are then looking for silver linings. Is the US-China war a boon or a bane? We already said that so far, there are no negative effects yet. If at all, the most at risk in this trade war is our semiconductor sector because US and China are in the sector’s supply chain,” he said.

Ortiz-Luis said exporters could also shift their focus to the emerging economic powerhouse—India, a country with 1.4 billion people and an economy that is growing well above seven percent annually.

“At this point the bilateral trade between India and the Philippines is starting to grow. We believe that exporters can manage in the short-term. Still, we see so much long-term potential,” he said.

A traditional and important market, the US is also the country’s biggest export market for food and agricultural products.

“We continue to push for greater market access for agricultural exports to the United States. The Philippines has several pending requests to the US Department of Agriculture for okra and pineapple exports after successfully getting the green light to ship bananas, mangoes and fresh young coconut,” he said.

Ortiz-Luis said negotiations between South Korea and the Philippines on the planned free trade agreement is reportedly “smooth sailing,” according to South Korean Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Ling Sung-nam.

“Manila and Seoul have also been negotiating to settle a bilateral free trade deal,” he said.

The export industry leader said they will still continue to push through.

“I concede that the export sector’s target of a six-percent growth this year will be an uphill climb and so a positive year-end result should suffice. We are hoping that the services sector will deliver the much-needed boost to export as well as some projected uptick from garments on increased demand on clothing during the holidays,” he said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the country’s total trade in September declined by 7.5 percent, as both imports and exports registered lower growth rates.

Exports dropped by 2.6 percent in September, dragged by the decline in manufactured goods and mineral products.

The positive performance in major markets of Japan, China, Korea and Hong Kong failed to offset the slide in earnings from the US, Asean and the EU.