By Jochebed B. Gonzales, Senior Researcher
THE TRADE DEFICIT in agricultural commodities further expanded in the first quarter of 2018 as agriculture exports fell sharply while imports grew.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority released Friday showed outbound shipments of agricultural goods worth $1.165 billion in the first three months of 2018, down 26.2% year on year. The first quarter slump in exports was a reversal from the 21.3% growth logged in the same period last year.
Meanwhile, imports of farm products rose 4.2% to $2.994 billion.
As a result, the agriculture trade deficit widened to $1.829 billion from $1.295 billion in the first quarter of 2017.
Agriculture accounted for 10% or $4.159 billion of total trade, which was $41.607 billion in the first quarter.
The Philippines incurred its biggest agriculture trade deficit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at $877.25 million, followed by the United States ($362.01 million), Australia ($167.94 million), and the European Union (EU, $10.13 million).
On the other hand, trade in farm goods with Japan was in surplus by $122.78 million.
Among the countries in ASEAN, Thailand was the Philippines’ top export destination with $31 million in receipts. Indonesia, on the other hand, was the lead source of agricultural imports at $298 million.
The Netherlands was Philippines’ top trading partner among members of the EU, with agricultural exports amounting $120 million and agricultural imports at $65 million.
Top agricultural exports during the period were animal or vegetable fats and oils at $310.18 million or 26.62% of the total goods shipped.
Other top farm goods exports include edible fruits and nuts ($270.58 million); preparations of vegetables, fruit, nuts or other parts of plants ($115.53 million); preparations of meat, of fish, or of crustaceans ($106.05 million); fish and crustaceans ($95.60 million); tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes ($83.99 million),
The country’s top farm import, meanwhile, was cereals ($568.76 million), followed by residues and waste from the food industries ($382.59 million); miscellaneous edible preparations ($325.55 million); animal or vegetable fats and oils ($269.11 million); and meat and edible meat offal ($261.41 million).