THE COUNTRY’S trade-in-goods deficit narrowed in March as exports grew at its fastest pace in a decade, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported this morning.

Merchandise exports grew 31.6% to $6.68 billion following an annual decline of 1.5% in February, preliminary data by the PSA showed.

The export tally for March was bigger than $5.35 billion and $5.08 billion in February 2021 and March 2020, respectively.

Meanwhile, merchandise imports expanded by 16.6% to $9.10 billion in March, higher than the 8.9% growth in the previous month.

For exports, the March result was the fastest in more than 10 years, or since the 46.8% growth in September 2010. Meanwhile, import growth was fastest in 29 months or since the 26.2% print in October 2018.

This brought trade deficit to $2.41 billion in March, smaller than the $2.71-billion gap in February, as well as the $2.73-billion shortfall posted in March 2020.

Year to date, exports increased by 7.6% to $17.56 billion compared with the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s (DBCC) projection of a 5% growth for the year.

Likewise, imports were up 3.2% to $25.56 billion on a cumulative basis compared with $24.76 billion the previous year. This was still below DBCC’s 8% target this year.

That brought the year-to-date trade balance to an $8-billion deficit, narrower than last year’s deficit of $8.45 billion. — L.O. Pilar