By Justine Irish D. Tabile, Reporter

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is aiming for 5% growth in 2023 merchandise and services exports, a level which would exceed the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s (DBCC) projections.

“We are confident that it will be a little bit more favorable than the DBCC targets of 1% for goods and 6% for services. So, we are hoping for at least 5% growth in terms of total exports,” Bianca Pearl R. Sykimte, director of DTI’s Export Marketing Bureau, said in an online briefing on Thursday.

Ms. Sykimte said services will drive exports after posting around $98 billion in total exports last year.

However, she said that it will be difficult to reach the targets set under the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2023-2028, which projected total exports of $126.8 billion in 2023.

“The PEDP targets were set when there were no geopolitical tensions yet, (and before) high inflation set in. No one had also factored in a less favorable Chinese recovery,” she said.

“The PEDP projections did not take into account the slowdown in the international trading environment,” she added.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that merchandise export earnings in the first eight months amounted to $47.81 billion, a 6.6% decline from a year earlier.

“We’re still down by 6.6%. But when we look at our August performance, we are the only country among the Asian economies that we’re tracking that grew in August,” Ms. Sykimte said.

“Year on year, our exports grew 4.2% for the month… Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia all declined,” she added.

She said that in the eight months to August, the Philippines is in the middle ranks. Japan led the region with 2.1% growth in exports. It was followed by China with a 5.1% decline and Thailand, which saw a 5.4% decrease in exports.

Ms. Sykimte said that the Philippines beat Malaysia which recorded a 7.8% decline, Vietnam (-9.6%), and Indonesia (-11.8%). The Philippines were also ahead of South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, which all recorded double-digit declines in exports.

For services, she said the Philippines posted 22% export growth in the first half, driven by travel services which surged to $4 billion from $800 million in the same period last year.

“Other exports of services under information technology and business process management, telecommunications, computer information services and other business services were up 49% for January to June,” she added.

Manufacturing services posted a 23% decline during the period, which includes assembly and packaging services.

Asked whether there is a need to review the PEDP, Ms. Sykimte said: “This is something that we’re discussing with Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. and with the overall Export Development Council (but) usually we recalibrate based on the trading environment.”