DTI maintains export growth target at 10%, sees pickup in electronics

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THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is maintaining its double-digit export growth target as it expects a recovery in the second quarter to offset the drop in exports recorded in the first four months of the year.

The DTI’s Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) Director Senen M. Perlada said exports are expected to grow in the three months to June driven by electronic products while high-value crops will be boosted by output sufficient to start servicing overseas demand.

“Electronics will be a driver. And then, we hope, after we get through the bottlenecks in the supply of certain agriculture products, we will eventually report an increase,” Mr. Perlada told BusinessWorld on Monday in Makati City.

Agricultural products facing difficulties meeting export demand include mangoes, plantains, peanuts, coffee, cacao, pili and garlic.

He said cacao, coffee and peanut output is insufficient to satisfy even domestic requirements.

Meanwhile, production of coconut-based products and fresh bananas are under pressure from cocolisap and fusarium wilt, respectively.

“[T]he lack of supply also affects our overall export competitiveness because in effect our exporters have to compete in the domestic market for the limited supply of the same materials,” Mr. Perlada added.

The government’s 2018 export growth target is 10%. In 2017 exports amounted to $62.87 billion.

Preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that merchandise exports fell 8.5% to $5.115 billion in April, against a 6.8% decline in March and a 30.4% increase in April 2017.

The contraction in April exports was the highest since the 10.9% decline in July 2016.

It also brought year-to-date exports to $20.955 billion, down 6.2% from a year earlier.

Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. President Danilo C. Lachica said the industry is maintaining its growth targets in electronics deliveries, “notwithstanding distractions” like the US-China trade tensions and tax reform, among others.

“Year-to-date, at $11.75 million, that’s still 3.3% higher than last year… There are a lot of challenges but we feel very comfortable that we can maintain that 5 to 6% growth projected for this year,” Mr. Lachica said during a briefing in Makati City on Monday.

Electronics exports in 2017 were a record $32.7 billion, accounting for more than half of merchandise exports. — Janina C. Lim