Exports up in 3rd quarter; exec says last quarter to determine sector’s health
While the rebound of the Philippine exports sector at the end of the third quarter of the year may be considered good news, a Cebuano business leader said stakeholders should still remain watchful.
Federico Escalona, executive director of the Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport) in Cebu, said the last three months of the year will determine whether the sector has indeed already recovered from 17 straight months of decline.
“We will have to see October, November, and December. If the last quarter performs better compared to the same period in 2015, then there is going to be momentum and I won’t be very much worried about next year,” he told reporters during a consultative meeting on international trade agreements in Cebu City last Friday.
Philippine export sales amounted to $5.211 billion in September this year, logging a 5.1-percent increase from $4.960 billion recorded during the same period in 2015.
According to preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the increase was attributed to eight major commodities out of the top 10 export commodities for the month, including other mineral products (97.5 percent), electronic equipment and parts (66.3 percent), metal components (18.2 percent), chemicals (10.8 percent), and articles of apparel and clothing accessories (8.3 percent), among others.
However, nine-month exports remained lower than a year ago, down 6.2 percent to $41.691 billion from $44.46 billion in 2015.
Meanwhile, imports maintained its double-digit growth for two months in a row last September with an increase of 13.5 percent from $6.255 billion in 2015 to $7.101 billion this year.
“We should not be complacent because many changes can still happen,” said Escalona.
Escalona cited the government’s drive to end contractualization in the country as well as petitions asking for an increase in workers’ wages as threats to the momentum of the export sector.
Tale on Trump
Sought for comment on the implications of US President-elect Donald Trump’s protectionist stance on Philippine exports to America, Escalona said the “US economy is so big that they cannot say they will not import” from the Philippines.
“It must have been a lucky break that President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent pronouncements were conciliatory,” he said.
Trump earlier announced that he was going to bring back all jobs to America and impose fines on imports from China and Mexico, among others.
On several occasions prior to the US presidential election last Nov. 9, Duterte had thrown tirades at incumbent US President Barack Obama following the latter criticizing the former’s drive against illegal-drugs.
Duterte even threatened to cut ties with the US, but he ended up explaining that he was only “shifting foreign policy” and realigning with China.
When Trump was announced winner of the US presidential race, however, Duterte congratulated him and even said he was looking forward to an enhanced relationship between the US and the Philippines.
“This may even be to our advantage so we can restart the good relationship we once had with America,” he said.
He added that the incoming US Ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim, having Asian roots would also help better foster the relationship between the two countries.
The US, including Alaska and Hawaii, ranked second among top export markets for September. They accounted for 14.1 percent of total exports, with receipts valued at $737.3 million during the period in review. This was 1.5 percent higher than $726.68 million in exports during the same month last year.
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