Philippine merchandise exports rebounded 4.5 percent in December 2016 to $4.871 billion as shipments of all major commodities, led by agro-based and petroleum and mineral products and manufactured goods, increased, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Friday.
The total inward shipment bill performance in December brought the total trade for the month to $12.9 billion.
Imports in December increased 19 percent to $6.435 billion year-on-year.
The National Economic and Development Authority said Philippine merchandise trade in 2016 grew 5.8 percent from 2015, backed by the double-digit growth of imports that offset the decline in exports.
The Philippine Statistics Authority said total trade in 2016 reached $137.4 billion, with the 14 percent growth in imports offsetting the 4.4-percent decline in exports.
“This means that we need to keep diversifying and exploring new markets, in addition to fully tapping our existing trade agreements to push further our upward trajectory,” said Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.
Meanwhile, the December trade rose 12.9 percent to $12.9 billion, backed by the 4.5-percent rebound of exports the 19 percent growth of imports.
“This demonstrates the recovery of our agricultural sector from the effects of the El Niño. It also indicates the positive contributions of mining and petroleum to the economy. This implies that we will have to find a wholesome balance between mining development and environmental protection,” Pernia said.
Import payments rose $7.4 billion due to the expanding demand for capital, consumer and raw materials and intermediate goods, despite the drop in mineral fuels and lubricants.
Exports to China surged 37 percent while shipments to Taiwan grew 10 percent.
Only Vietnam and the Philippines posted positive gains in the 2016 merchandise trade as other selected Asian countries posted weaker data.
“If we want to continue being in the forefront, we need to create policies that enhance and expand opportunities for industries, expand our infrastructure, and shift to a knowledge-based economy. We also need to push for reforms that will sustain growth such as the comprehensive tax reform package, which could provide additional impetus to consumption and investment,” said Pernia.