As exports grow, DTI upbeatbut flags Ukraine fallout risks

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is confident the Philippine economy will continue to rebound and grow in the coming months after exports grew 9.8 percent in the first quarter.

However, the pace of growth would largely depend on “how bad the world economies will be affected by the prolonged war in Ukraine,” according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Philippine exports increased by 9.8 percent to $19.42 billion from last year’s $17.68 billion based on the preliminary data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) last Friday.

In March 2022, the country’s monthly exports reached $7.17 billion, representing growth of 5.9 percent from the  $6.20 billion  in February.

Despite the export recovery, the trade chief emphasized that the only thing to watch out for is the possible global downturn of the economy in the latter part of the year.

“The rate of Philippine export recovery in terms of both our key export products and markets brings greater optimism for a stronger Philippine economy. The only uncertainty is the possible global slowdown towards the second half of the year,” Lopez explained further.

The DTI, in a news statement, noted that 21 out of 48 Philippine export commodity groups drive the resurgence of the country’s export sector, recording consistent increases in export sales as compared to three time periods: 2021, 2020, and pre-pandemic average over 2017-2019.

The trade industry noted that 10 other export commodity groups also recorded an increase in export sales this quarter. However, export performance has been inconsistent when  compared to pre-pandemic and 2020 export levels.

This includes, among others, fresh bananas, pineapples and pineapple products, mangoes, and articles of apparel and clothing accessories.

In March, agro-based exports showed a 32.6-percent growth compared to the same period last year, which is mainly attributed to increased export sales of coconut products at 63.3 percent and other fruits and vegetables including bananas and mangoes at 14.1 percent.

Meanwhile, for manufactured goods, growth for the month was driven by exports of electronic products (i.e. semiconductors, telecommunication, communication/radar, and control and instrumentation products).

Double-digit export growth rates were also recorded in garments at 23.2 percent, textile yarns/fabric at 27.7 percent, and travel goods and handbags at 41.2 percent.

According to a report published last week by S&P Global, Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which measures manufacturing output, the Philippines’ PMI hit 53.2 in March, from 52.8 in February.

The DTI said the country’s manufacturing sector continues to benefit from increased demand brought about by economic reopening and relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.

“Output and new orders continue to grow, with the former expanding at the joint-fastest pace since July 2019,” it said in a news statement released on Sunday.

According to the trade chief, “the continuous growth of our manufacturing sector, as well as the Philippine economy’s growth trajectory in general, was propelled by continued economic reopening.”