As per recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 6 out of 9 electronics exports groups reported positive growth for the first quarter of 2020 despite the COVID-19 global pandemic. Of note, automotive exports grew 79% to USD57.4M from USD32.1M during this period.
Other sectors that experienced growth were:
1) Consumer Electronics (up by 40.9% to USD201.9M)
2) Office Equipment, (up by 20.9% to USD133.2M)
3) Control and Instrumentation (up by 7.9% to USD117.0M)
4) Medical/Industrial Instrumentation, (up by 7.5% to USD31.5M)
5) Semiconductors (up by 0.5% to USD6.5B)
The cumulative positive difference in value reported by the 6 subsectors was not enough to offset the losses in the subsectors that saw a decline, primarily Electronic Data Processing, Communication and Radar, and Telecommunication.
Electronics went down by 2.5% to USD8.6B in the first quarter from USD8.8B in the same quarter in 2019 which reversed gains made in the first two months.
As a whole, Philippine merchandise exports slid by 24.9% in March to USD4.5B from USD6.0B in the same period for 2019—after positive growth in January and February.
Year-to-date (YTD) export sales is now at a 5.2% decline to USD15.7B from USD16.6B in the same period compared to 2019. Electronics comprised 54.7% of the total value of Philippine merchandise exports, while Non-electronics made up the rest of 45.3% in the review period.
“A decline is expected in March since we are reeling from the effects of COVID-19. The Enhanced Community Quarantine has also just begun that month and we have refined our guidelines for transporting and exporting goods since then,” said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary for Trade Promotions Group (TPG) Abdulgani M. Macatoman.
The negative figures was a result of double-digit decreases in the export sales of 9 of the top 10 major export commodities:
1) Metal Components (-40.9%)
2) Machinery and Transport Equipment (-33.1%)
3) Electronic Products (-24.0%)
4) Ignition Wiring (-22.9%)
5) Coconut Oil (-22.2%)
After the positive showing for the first two months, Non-Electronics’ export sales declined by 8.1% to USD7.1B in the first three months from USD7.8B in the same period last year.
Exports to all the top 10 destinations of the Philippines in March 2020 posted negative growth rates led by South Korea (-45.0%), Taiwan (-39.1%), and US (-33.9%). In reverse order, the three economies were also the biggest decliners in YTD terms, incurring negative growth rates of -9.2%, -8.8%, and -7.8%. Overall, total exports to the top 10 markets declined by 23.3% to USD3.9B YTD from USD5.1B in the same period last year.
“We are saddened but not surprised,” said DTI-Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) Director Senen M. Perlada. “Right now we are studying the global market to help Philippine exports respond to the changing demands brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the travel constraints, we recommend exporters to explore online marketspaces as a strategy even after the pandemic.”
Under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), DTI maintained that export-oriented businesses will remain operational, issuing memorandum circulars to highlight the unrestricted movement of cargo during the ECQ.