THE trade in Philippine agricultural goods posted a deficit of $2.71 billion in the second quarter, widening by 0.2%, with the decline in exports outweighing falling imports, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

In a report, the PSA said that overall agricultural trade — the sum of exports and imports — dropped 14.9% to $5.93 billion, which reversed a 22.1% year-earlier gain.

Agricultural exports declined 24.4% to $1.61 billion for the three-month period, accounting for 8.9% of total exports.

Comprising the largest share of exports were edible fruit and nuts as well as peel of citrus fruit melons, valued at $521.86 million or 32.3% of the total.

Agricultural products shipped to ASEAN countries accounted for 6.8% of total exports at $175.26 million, with tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes the top exports.

Malaysia was the Philippines’ top export market accounting for $53.01 million or 31.8% of exports to the region.

“Exports of agricultural goods to (the European Union) member countries in the second quarter of 2023 reached $55.15 million, which accounted for 11.8% of exports to EU member countries,” the PSA said.

The Netherlands was the top buyer of agricultural goods within the EU, purchasing $125.48 million or 49.2% of farm exports to the region.

Animal or vegetable fats and oils and their cleavage products, prepared edible fats and animal or vegetable waxes were the top agricultural exports to the region.

Imports of agricultural goods fell 10.7% to $4.32 billion representing 13.8% of total imports.

Cereals remained the top agricultural imports for the period at 20.6% of the total, or $888.23 million.

During the second quarter, imports of agricultural goods to ASEAN countries were valued at $1.55 billion or 16.4% of total imports. Vietnam was the top source of imports, accounting for $509.14 million or 32.8%.

“Agricultural imports from EU member countries amounted to $405.83 million or 19.0% of farm imports by value in the second quarter,” it said.

Among EU members, Spain was the top supplier of farm goods, accounting for $94.31 million or 23.2% of overall farm imports.

Meat and edible meat offal were the top imports from the EU. — Adrian H. Halili