By Mark T. Amoguis
DOMESTIC TRADE, both in terms of volume and value, increased during the third quarter, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
According to preliminary data, the total value of domestic trade rose 10.6% year-on-year to P170.33 billion in the three months to September.
In terms of volume, domestic trade grew 3.9% to 5.05 million tons.
The domestic commodity flow indicator measures the regional flow of goods, which is dominated by water transport.
Four commodity categories monitored by the PSA posted increases in volume, led by chemicals and related products, which rose 191.2% to 492,083 tons. In value terms, the category increased 15.8% to P11.03 billion.
It was followed by crude materials, inedible, except fuels, which rose 134.2% to 734,479 tons. By value, on the other hand, the commodity group declined by 21.7% to P3.36 billion.
Other commodities that posted gains in terms of volume in the third quarter were mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (29.9%) and miscellaneous manufactured articles (6.9%).
However, double-digit drops in terms of volume were noted in the following categories: commodities and transactions not elsewhere classified in the Philippine Standard Commodity Classification (-65.9%); beverages and tobacco (-50.8%); animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes (-35.2%); manufactured goods classified chiefly by material (-19.7%); and food and live animals (-14.9%).
During the three months to September, machinery and transport equipment continued to account for the biggest share of the total value of traded commodities during the quarter at P54.98 billion or 32.3% of the total.
The National Capital Region remained the top source of commodities with outflows amounting to P58.75 billion. It recorded a domestic trade surplus of P37.82 billion during the quarter.
Western Visayas, meanwhile, was the top destination of commodities with total inflows amounting P30.75 billion. It posted a domestic trade deficit amounting to P6.01 billion in the three months to September.
Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at Union Bank of the Philippines, said domestic trade, both in terms of volume and value, validates the robustness of economic growth in the third quarter, though it was weaker than expected.
“This may also mean that, despite the lower aggregate growth number, the quality of growth may have been better since volume and value of domestic trade have both increased,” he said.
For the rest of the year, the economist sees Christmas demand propelling domestic trade growth.
“For 2019, it may well carry over because of election spending and the continued push for infrastructure spending by the government,” he said.