March exports sustain double-digit growth

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Philippine merchandise exports sustained double-digit growth in March for a second month, cementing the country’s position as a growth driver in the Southeast Asian region.

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The country’s export earnings in the month jumped 11.2 percent to $5.2 billion from $4.7 billion a year earlier led by shipments of manufactures as well as total agro-based, forest and mineral products, according to data released by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Friday.

In February of this year, Philippine export earnings grew 24.4 percent from a year earlier to $4.65 billion.

“Manufactures remain as the major contributor for export growth. Accounting for 84.5 percent of our total merchandise exports, this means that we are riding the wave of a sustained expansion in global manufacturing activity,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

The PSA reported that export earnings from manufactured goods reached $4.4 billion, up 13.5 percent from $3.9 billion registered in March 2013.

Balisacan noted that the performance of manufactures was mainly due to increased outbound sales in diverse commodities including electronic products, machinery and transport equipment, wood manufactures, processed food and beverages, non-metallic manufactures, furniture and fixtures, textile yarns and fabrics, and garments, among other products.

Farm-based product exports also posted robust growth, expanding by 22.1 percent to $469.2 million from $384.3 million in March 2013.

“Higher domestic production of banana, mango and pineapple in the fourth quarter of 2013, along with strong demand from Japan, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Middle East and the United States boosted the export volume of these goods,” the Cabinet official said.

“The Philippines’ sugar quota commitment with the USA also contributed to higher export volume of sugar products in March 2014,” added Balisacan, who is also NEDA director-general.

He said the Philippines shipped 45.3 million gross kilos of centrifugal and refined sugar to the United States after being unable to export sugar since November 2013 due to the effects of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and the Sugar Regulatory Authority’s (SRA) earlier decision to trim down the sugar allocation for exports.

Forest product exports rose to $9.9 million in March this year, rising by 76.1 percent compared to the same month last year.

“The higher international prices of other forest products and logs may have contributed to the gains in the exports value of these commodities,” said Balisacan.

He said Japanese demand for iron ore helped boost export revenues from mineral products, which grew by 0.8 percent year-on-year.

On the other hand, the PSA said exports of petroleum products plunged 76.5 percent in March to only $17.5 million compared to $74.3 million a year earlier.

“Despite the weak performance in outward shipments of petroleum, the Philippines remains among the top performers in merchandise exports growth, alongside Vietnam,” said Balisacan.

For the first quarter of 2014, the country’s export receipts reached $14.3 billion, up 6.5 percent from the $13.4 billion recorded in the same period last year.

Japan remained the country’s top export destination, accounting for $1.3 billion or 25 percent of total merchandise export receipts in March.

Other top markets for Philippine exports were the United States with 13.7 percent, China 10.7 percent, Hong Kong 7.9 percent, Singapore 7.5 percent, Germany 4.6 percent, South Korea 4.5 percent, Thailand 3.8 percent, Taiwan 3.5 percent, and the Netherlands 3.3 percent.

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