THE Philippines was the 24th-largest exporter of digitally-delivered services in 2022 , with a tally of $27.66 billion, up 11%, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said.   

In its Global Trade Outlook and Statistics report released Wednesday, the WTO said Philippine exports accounted for 0.7% of the global total for digitally delivered services.   

According to the WTO, exports of digitally delivered services include business, professional, and technical services, computer services, financial services, intellectual property services, insurance services, telecommunication services, audio-visual and other personal, cultural, and recreational services, and information services. 

The US was the top exporter of digitally delivered services at $632.16 billion, followed by the UK with $350.31 billion, Ireland $290.47 billion, Germany $227.24 billion, and India $227.23 billion. 

The WTO added that the Philippines is 24th in terms of merchandise imports at $144.50 billion, if intra-EU trade is excluded. The 2022 total is up 16% and is equivalent to a 0.7% global share.  

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said in January that the trade balance, or the difference between exports and imports, expanded to a deficit of $58.32 billion in 2022, up from a deficit of $42.23 billion in 2021.

In a separate statement, the WTO said the volume of world merchandise trade is projected to grow 1.7% in 2023, slowing from the 2.7% growth in 2022 due to the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war and high inflation.   

The new forecast for the year is higher than the 1% estimate made by the WTO in October 2022. The WTO made the change following the expected boost in international trade with the relaxation of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic controls in China.   

“Trade continues to be a force for resilience in the global economy, but it will remain under pressure from external factors in 2023. This makes it even more important for governments to avoid trade fragmentation and refrain from introducing obstacles to trade,” WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said.

“Investing in multilateral cooperation on trade, as WTO members did at our Twelfth Ministerial Conference last June, would bolster economic growth and people’s living standards over the long term,” she added.   

For 2024, the WTO is expecting trade growth to hit 3.2%. Some of the factors that might affect the 2024 projection include geopolitical tensions, food supply shocks, and the possibility of unforeseen fallout from monetary tightening.  

“The lingering effects of COVID-19 and the rising geopolitical tensions were the main factors impacting trade and output in 2022 and this is likely to be the case in 2023 as well,” WTO Chief Economist Ralph Ossa said.   

“Interest rate hikes in advanced economies have also revealed weaknesses in banking systems that could lead to wider financial instability if left unchecked. Governments and regulators need to be alert to these and other financial risks in the coming months,” he added.  - Revin Mikhael D. Ochave