PHILIPPINE international trade value doubled in April as both exports and imports of merchandise goods posted record-high growth, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported earlier this morning.

Preliminary data by the PSA showed the country’s total external trade in goods — or the sum of merchandise exports and imports — was $14.163 billion in April, up 107.5% from the $6.827 billion in the same month last year.

Merchandise exports during the month went up by 72.1% year on year to $5.715 billion, compared with a revised 33.3% expansion in March and a 41.3% decline in April 2020.

Meanwhile, merchandise imports grew by 140.9% to $8.449 billion versus the 22% year-on-year expansion in March and the 62.9% decline in April last year.

The April growth figures were the fastest recorded since at least 1991 — the earliest year with available PSA trade data. They also marked the second and third consecutive month of growth for exports and imports, respectively.

Trade deficit for the month stood at $2.734 billion. This was smaller than the $2.752-billion shortfall in March, but was bigger than the $187.096-million gap in April 2020.

Year to date, the trade balance amounted to a $11.09-billion deficit, wider than $8.64-billion trade gap in 2020’s comparable four months.

For the same four-month period, exports and imports tallied annual growth rates of 19% (to $23.368 billion) and 21.9% (to $34.460 billion), respectively. These surpassed the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s revised growth targets for exports and imports at 8% and 12% for the year. — Ana Olivia A. Tirona