THE COUNTRY’S trade-in-goods balance hit another record deficit in December as merchandise imports continue to grow by double digits, outpacing exports growth.

The value of outbound shipment of goods grew by 7.1% year on year to $6.27 billion in December, preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed

This was higher than the 1.8% increase in the same month in 2020 and the 6.6% growth in November last year.

December’s export growth was the highest in four months or since August’s 18.9% expansion.

Meanwhile, the country’s merchandise imports rose by 38.3% to $11.48 billion in December. This marked a reversal from the 4.7% decline in December 2020 but faster than the 36.8% import growth in November 2021.

This was the highest import print in six months or since the 43.4% growth in June.

This brought the trade-in-goods deficit to a record $5.21 billion in December, wider than the $2.45-billion shortfall recorded in December 2020, as well as the $4.71-billion gap in November last year.

For 2021, the trade balance ballooned to a $43.13-billion deficit, almost double the $24.60-billion trade gap in 2020.

Exports grew by 14.5% year on year to $74.64 billion in 2021, missing the revised 16% growth projected by the Development Budget and Coordination Committee.

Imports climbed by 31.1% to $117.78 billion. This pace was slightly above the government’s also revised 30% assumption. — M. I. U. Catilogo