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Trade gap widens as exports decline for fifth straight month

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container port
Giant cranes are shown at the international container port in Manila in this Oct. 17 photo. -- AFP

Exports declined for the fifth straight month in May while imports grew by double-digits, reported the Philippine Statistics Authority Tuesday morning.

Exports declined by 3.8% to $5.76 billion in May, better than the 4.9% contraction seen in April, but worse than the 2.4% recorded in May 2017.

The latest merchandise export figure brought full-year receipts to $26.91 billion, down 5% from $28.33 billion in the same five months last year.

The country’s balance of trade in goods expanded to a $3.7 billion deficit in May from $2.51 billion in a year ago as imports grew by double-digits. The country’s import bill increased 11.4% to $9.46 billion during the month, slower than the 23.1% seen in April and 20.2% in May 2017.

Year to date, merchandise import grew by 10.9% to $42.68 billion.

The United States is the Philippines’ top export market in May with a 14.6% market share at $840.15 million followed by Hong Kong’s 13.8% ($796.47 million) and China’s 13.2% ($761.4 million) market shares.

Meanwhile, China was the country’s top source of imports with a 20.3% in May ($1.92 billion) followed by South Korea’s 10.3% ($978.61 million) and Japan’s 9.5% ($901.27 million) market shares. — Lourdes O. Pilar