TRADE growth is expected to gain momentum in the coming months as quarantine measures ease, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported on July 10 that the country’s total merchandise trade registered a slower decline of 38.7 percent in May 2020, after a steep 59.5 percent decline in April 2020.
Merchandise exports declined by 35.6 percent but with notable improvements in agro-based, forest, and manufactured products.
Imports, meanwhile, fell by 40.6 percent but showed slower contractions in major commodity groupings, particularly capital goods, raw materials including chemicals and manufactured goods and consumer goods.
“The slower decline in trade performance is a welcome indication that economic activity has started to pick up. This is due to the relaxation of quarantine measures in certain areas, the gradual reopening of business, and the restarting of production within the country and its trading partners,” said Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua.
Manufactured goods, which account for almost 80 percent of total exports, are seen to gradually recover as the latest results of the Purchasing Managers’ Index for the Philippines rose from 40.1 in May to 49.7 in June 2020.
Notwithstanding the ongoing lockdown in Cebu where some of the electronics firms are located, the Semiconductors and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. also indicated a gradual pick-up in semiconductors exports in the coming months and projected a flat growth in 2020.
The Neda chief said that given significant downside risks to global trade, the country needs to ramp up efforts to build a more competitive trade sector.
“We have made some notable improvements in the past decade. However, we need to capitalize on this and further improve infrastructure, logistics, productivity and the whole manufacturing value chain in order bring down the cost of production and remain internationally competitive,” Chua said. (PR)