MALACAÑANG was elated Saturday over news that the country’s trade volumes rose by more than a fifth in March, as a result of increases in both exports and imports.
“The numbers are out and they are encouraging,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
Abella was referring to the National Economic and Development Authority’s (NEDA) report that the country’s total trade grew to $13.5 billion in March, with imports and exports jumping by 24 percent and 21 percent, respectively.
In a statement, the state economic planning agency noted that Philippine trade grew by a solid 18.5 percent in the January to March period. Imports grew by 18.6 percent while exports rose by 18.3 percent in the first quarter.
Merchandise exports in March alone grew by 21 percent year-on-year to $5.579 billion, sustaining growth for the fourth straight month. Imports, meanwhile, rose by 24 percent to $7.882 billion in March, the eighth consecutive month of growth.
The NEDA said the Philippines’ trade growth exceeded Indonesia’s 20.9 percent, Malaysia’s 20.4 percent, Vietnam’s 20.2 percent, and Thailand’s 13.8 percent.
Abella said the figures indicated that the Philippines could become “the fastest growing economy in Asean-5” this year.
“Having said this, the Duterte administration not only aims to make growth robust and sustainable but also to promote it to be equitable and inclusive,” Abella said.
“Bringing prosperity to all is one way of empowering Filipinos. The Duterte administration is on the right track by promoting micro, small and medium enterprises to help create livelihood opportunities that would contribute in the poverty alleviation efforts of the government,” he added.