The country’s trade deficit increased to $4.93 billion in March, as imports outpaced exports, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
In a report released on Tuesday, the PSA said the trade deficit during the month was higher by 7.5 percent than the $4.5 billion recorded a year ago.
Total external trade in goods amounted to $17.98 billion, a decline of 5.1 percent from the $18.95 billion seen in the same period last year.
The total value of exports amounted to $6.53 billion, down by 9.1 percent from the $7.18 billion in March 2022, while the total value of imports reached $11.46 billion in March 2023, down by 2.7 percent from $11.76 billion a year ago.
Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation chief economist Michael Ricafort said: “The country has been importing a lot since that free trade agreements (FTAs) for more than 10 years already.”
Ricafort expressed belief that the country needs to increase local production, especially for manufacturing and agriculture, to improve productivity of these sectors.
“(This) also boost(s) the country export capacity and competitiveness,” he said.
Meanwhile, the PSA attributed the country’s lower total export sales in March 2023 to the drop in several commodity groups led by electronic products, coconut oil, travel goods and handbags, miscellaneous manufactured articles and other manufactured goods.
Electronic products continued to be the country’s top exports with earnings amounting to $3.49 billion, followed by other mineral products with $385.35 million, and other manufactured goods which amounted to $351.17 million.
Top export destinations during the month were the People’s Republic of China, Japan, United States, Hong Kong and Singapore.
CURRENTPH NEWS SERVICE