Exports of Philippine goods grew at its fastest pace in more than two years in December, narrowing the country’s trade deficit to a six-month low amid a continued decline in imports, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on yesterday.
Preliminary PSA data showed the value of merchandise exports picked up by 21.4% annually to $5.74 billion in December — the fastest since July 2017’s 21.9% — compared to a revised 12.2% year-on-year decline to $4.73 billion recorded in December 2018.
December export figures drove the full-year tally to $70.33 billion, up 1.5% from the $69.31 billion in 2018’s comparable 12 months and surpassing the one percent growth target set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) for 2019.
Meanwhile, merchandise imports were valued at $8.22 billion in December, down 7.6% from $8.90 billion in the same month in 2018. Imports have been declining for nine straight months since April.
The import bill for 2019 amounted to $107.37 billion, down 4.8% from the $112.84 billion and falling short of the DBCC’s two-percent target set for the year.
This caused the trade-in-goods deficit in December to end at $2.48 billion from $4.17 billion in the same month in 2018. This was the lowest trade gap since June 2019’s $2.37-billion shortfall.
Cumulatively, the trade deficit reached $37.05 billion last year, smaller than the $43.53-billion gap in January-December 2018.