Advice to exporters: Be cautiously optimistic
PhilExport Cebu executive director Federico Escalona yesterday advised exporters to be “cautiously positive” this year instead of getting their hopes up too high.
Escalona said exports likely remained in the negative territory in the last quarter of last year.
“Personally, wala pa nako nakita ang end sa slowdown (I have not yet seen the end to the slowdown),” Escalona said.
“For 2016, I think I am very cautious about predicting it too optimistically,” he added.
The export sector registered negative monthly growth rates last year, except in March, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported (see graph).
Although the Philippines was able to withstand the external headwinds last year, Escalona said clients of Philippine exporters in the US and Europe may have been affected.
He advised exporters to develop better trade relations with their international buyers.
“Usually, the successful export businesses last year were the ones with long-term relationships with their buyers.
They already have the loyalty of their clients,” he said.
These businesses may have had an increase in orders despite the global market situation, which would translate to greater confidence and loyalty of clients.
Escalona also said exporters should maintain a balance between the domestic market and the export market to mitigate losses in the export market.
Exporters who have small client bases within Asia might also want to take advantage of the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Economic community, which will pave the way for a single market and the free flow of goods and services.
“It will depend on how you position yourself in the Asean community. If you fight competition, you might lose. But if you cooperate, or do what they call the ‘coopetition,’ if you take advantage of your strengths, you will survive,” he said.
Escalona said it’s difficult to say who was hardest hit by the slowdown last year since businesses in all subsectors reported losses.
“Within any given sector, someone may have lost sales but there are a few who increased in terms of exports. It depends on your buyers,” he said.
Based on PSA data, the worst decline in exports was in May when the growth rate was negative 17.4 percent. This was followed by negative 15.5 percent in September and negative 10.8 percent in October.
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