THE PHILIPPINES’ trade deficit widened to two-month high of $3.68 billion in November, as exports growth slowed while imports dropped for the first time in nearly two years, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Tuesday morning.

Preliminary data from the PSA showed the value of imports slid by 1.9% to $10.78 billion in November, ending 21 straight months of growth.

It was also the first time imports declined in 22 months or since the 11.8% contraction recorded in January 2021.

November import drop reversed the revised 7.7% growth in October and the 36.8% surge in the same month in 2021.

Meanwhile, exports rose by 13.2% year on year to $7.10 billion in November. This was slower than the revised 20.3% growth in October but remained faster than 6.6% in November 2021.

This brought the trade-in-goods deficit — the difference between exports and imports — to $3.68 billion in November, narrower than the $4.71-billion shortfall in 2021 but wider than the revised $3.31-billion gap in October.

It was the widest deficit in two months after the revised $4.83-billion gap in September.

November’s total trade — the sum of exports and imports — grew by 3.6% to $17.88 billion, easing from 12.5% in October and the revised 24.1% in November last year.

In the 10 months to October, exports grew by 7% year on year to $73.17 billion. This is still above the revised 4% growth target set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).

Year to date, imports climbed by 20.3% to $126.86 billion, just above the government’s revised 20% target for 2022.

In the January-to-November period, the trade deficit widened to $53.69 billion, from the $37.11-billion gap a year ago. — LOP