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Philippine Trade Gap Broadens

Philippine Trade Gap BroadensPhilippine Trade Gap Broadens

Philippines imports continued to outpace exports in January, sustaining the trade deficit that put pressure on the peso at the start of the year. The Philippine Statistics Authority said that the total external trade in goods in January grew 7% to $13.75 billion from $12.85 billion a year ago, slower than the 16% increase a year ago.

Merchandise exports during the month inched up 0.5% to $5.22 billion from $5.19 billion a year ago, also slower than the 22% jump in 2017, PNA reported.

Imports of goods in the same month rose 11.4% to $8.54 billion from $7.67 billion a year ago, slightly slower than the 12.2% climb in January last year.

As import receipts surpassed the amount of exports, the balance of trade in goods in January remained at a deficit of $3.32 billion, 34.3% wider than the $2.47 billion a year ago.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, earlier said the widening trade deficit was “not good, but it is transitory and manageable.”

Last year, imports jumped 10.2% to $92.7 billion, outpacing the 9.5% growth in exports to $62.9 billion, resulting in a record-high trade-in-goods deficit of $29.8 billion.

The surge in imports had reversed the current account to a deficit, which had the market worried and pulled the peso weaker in recent months. At end-January, the peso depreciated to 51.341 to $1 from end-2017’s 49.958 to $1.

A component of the balance of payments, the current account was expected to swing to a $100 million deficit in 2017 from the $600 million surplus in 2016 amid the government’s push to ramp up infrastructure investments leading to a surge in imports of capital goods. This year, the current account deficit is seen to swell to $700 million.

 

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