Total trade thins to $14B

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    Industries currently being plagued by the influx of substandard products include steel, glass, ceramic tiles, cement, food, medicine and wood.

    The country’s exports returned to a negative performance in October after posting growth in the previous month, while imports continued its annual contraction, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

    The PSA yesterday reported the country’s merchandise trade performance slightly declined in October .

    Export sales for the month, amounting to $6.2 billion, decreased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent, from a 2.9 percent annual increase in the previous month.

    Total imported goods in October , which amounted to $7.98 billion, meanwhile remained at downtrend with an annual rate of -19.5 percent.

    The value of imports continued to have negative annual growth for 18 straight months since May 2019, the PSA said. In September 2020, the decline was lower at 15.3 percent.

    The balance of trade in goods amounted to $1.78 billion, representing a trade deficit with an annual decline of 50.3 percent.

    The trade deficit fell at a slower rate in the previous month at 47.7 percent and in October 2019 at -19.1 percent.

    Thus, the total external trade in goods in October, which amounted to $14.18 billion, dropped at an annual rate of 12.8 percent.

    The PSA said this was faster than the annual drop in the previous month at 8.2 percent, and in October 2019 at 4.6 percent.

    The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said in a statement the government will be prioritizing the safe opening of the economy, as well as connectivity and logistics reforms to bring down cost and improve competitiveness of the trade sector amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    Karl Kendrick Chua, acting secretary, said despite the declines, there are some positive takeaways from the trade data.

    NEDA said merchandise exports to the country’s leading regional trading partners such as China and Asean both grew in double digits.

    Imports of capital goods increased in October compared to September 2020, suggesting business activities have been responding to the government’s approach for a targeted and gradual reopening and increased mobility, the agency added.

    However, Chua highlighted that more could be done to help accelerate recovery.

    “As traditional means of connecting buyers to suppliers are limited at the moment, the government and the private sector need to work together to harness digital platforms and alternative means to source from, and supply to, the country,” Chua said.