Huge turnaround for Philippine exports, 31% increase for March 2021


Supported by the global economic recovery arising from the ongoing Covid-19 vaccinations, Philippine merchandise exports in March 2021 rebounded strongly and jumped by 31.6% compared to the same month last year. At USD6.68B, March 2021 exports were even higher than the USD6.03B earned in March 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

This puts the country’s export growth year-to-date (January to March) in the positive territory at 7.6%, according to preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Electronics, which make up 61% of all exports, grew by 25% compared to March last year. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez attributed this growth to chip demand due to upgrades to IT systems, new smartphones, auto demand, and automation.

“Factories across the US, Europe, and Asia are ramping up production. And since the Philippines is part of global value chains, our exports recover as more countries reopen,”  Sec. Lopez said.

He added, “I hope this trend continues so our exporters can hire more people.”

All the top 10 major commodity groups in terms of value exports recorded annual increases led by other mineral products (195.8%), followed by chemicals (159.8%), and other manufactured goods (115.7%).

The ramping up of production in factories across Europe and Asia in March led to a solid recovery in demand. In particular, strong chip demand due to upgrades in IT systems, a new cycle of smartphones, strong auto demand, and moves toward automation increased the exports of electronic parts globally.

Coconut oil was the 10th most exported commodity group and the top agricultural export. Sales of the product increased by 7.8% to USD89.05M. A 2020 study by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) found that virgin coconut oil (VCO) can help combat COVID-19 symptoms and prevent mild cases from becoming severe.

Following coconut oil is processed food and beverages which amounted to USD81.99M —a 99.1% growth from March 2020.

China was the top destination for goods, receiving USD1.07B or 16% of all Philippine exports. Rounding out the top five trading partners were the US (14.9%), Japan (14.7%), Hong Kong (12.5%), and Singapore (5.2%).

If taken by economic blocs, 83% of all exports went to member countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The APEC has 21-member countries, including the Philippines. Eleven of those countries are also signatories of the world’s biggest free trade deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

“The RCEP reduces tariff and red tape to ease the flow of goods in the region,” said Sec. Lopez.

“That’s why I encourage all exporters to maximize its benefits. DTI, through the Export Marketing Bureau and other trade promotion agencies, is ready to help you in the process,” the trade chief said.

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