The country’s goods purchases from abroad rose at a much faster pace than the sales of Philippine-made goods overseas, bringing the nation’s trade deficit in September to its widest in nearly three years.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Friday, Nov. 5, that expenditures for imported goods rose 25 percent to $10.67 billion in September from $8.55 billion in the same month last year.

Berth shot from ICTSI’s flagship Manila International Container Terminal

Exports of Philippine-made goods abroad, on the other hand, grew only 6.3 percent to $6.68 billion from $6.28 billion a year ago.

The September performance led to a trade deficit of $3.99 billion, the biggest since January 2019. This also brought the gap to $29.18 billion in the first nine months.

Imports of electronics, which account for 26.2 percent of the country’s total purchases from abroad, increased 11.5 percent to $2.79 billion from last year’s $2.5 billion.

Meanwhile, the country’s purchases of fuels, lubricants and related materials enjoyed a three-digit expansion, growing 117.4 percent to $1.43 billion from $658 million last year.

The country continued to source the bulk of its imports from the People’s Republic of China with a 21.8 percent share of the total import bill, while Japan is second biggest source of merchandise goods.

Other major sources of imports during the month were Republic of Korea, Indonesia, United States, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

The September performance led to a 30.3 percent growth in imports in the first nine-months of the year to $84.86 billion from $65.14 billion in the same period in 2020.

Meanwhile, electronic exports, accounting for 57.1 percent of the total dollar receipts in September, inched up by 5.4 percent to $3.81 billion from $3.6 billion last year.

Rounding up the list of the top exports for September were other mineral products, $358.2 million; other manufactured goods, $352.1 million; machinery and transport equipment, $184.9 million; and ignition wiring set and other wiring sets used in vehicles, aircrafts and ships, $184.6 million.

Completing the top list were chemicals, $151.2 million; metal components, $111.7 million; gold, $110.8 million; and coconut oil, $109.4 million.

Receipts from the top ten exports reached $5.55 billion, or 83.1 percent of the total.

The United States was the Philippines’ biggest market, with purchases of $1.17 billion, or an increase of 27 percent from $917 million in September last year.

Shipments to People’s Republic of China reached $1.05 billion, followed by Japan with purchases of $936.6 million.

Other top markets were the Hong Kong, $917 million; Singapore, $402.5 million; Thailand, $292.1 million; Germany, $246.1 million; Taiwan, $238.8 million; Republic of Korea, $196 million; and Netherlands, $159.8 million.

The September performance allowed the country’s merchandise exports to grow 18 percent in the first nine months of the year, reaching $55.68 billion from $47.19 billion last year.

Source: Manila Bulletin (