The country’s trade balance of trade deficit further narrowed to a $3.307-billion deficit in October as exports growth rose while imports eased, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Tuesday morning.

Preliminary PSA data showed the value of merchandise exports climbed by 20% year on year to $7.695 billion in October, higher than the 2% growth in the same month last year. This was also faster than the revised 7.1% growth in September.

It marked the highest pace in 17 months or since the 30.8% expansion in May last year.

Meanwhile, the country’s merchandise imports went up by 7.5% to $11.002 billion in October, slower than the 22.8% growth in October 2021, but lower than the revised 14.4% increase in the previous month.

This was the slowest pickup of imports in 21 months or since the 11.8% decline logged in January 2021. The imports print also ended its 19 straight months of double-digit expansion.

This brought the trade-in-goods deficit — the difference between exports and imports — to $3.307 billion in October, lower than the $3.823-billion shortfall in October last year. It was also lower than the revised $4.843-billion gap in September.

Total trade — the sum of exports and imports — grew by 12.3% to $18.698 billion. This pace was faster than the revised 11.5% in September, but lower than the 13.8% in October 2021.

In the ten months to October, exports grew by 6.3% year on year to $66.015 billion, above the revised 4% growth target set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee.

Year to date, imports climbed by 22.7% to $115.994 billion. This was already above the government’s revised 20% target this year.

The trade balance ballooned to a $49.23-billion deficit during the same period, wider than the $32.40-billion trade gap in the comparable ten months last year. — A.M.P. Yraola