A WORKER of Ayala Corp.’s Integrated Micro-Electronics, Inc. (IMI) is pictured at its electronics manufacturing assembly plant in Biñan, Laguna, April 20, 2016. — REUTERS

By Jenina P. Ibañez, Reporter

THE decline in electronics exports last year exceeded industry projections after an anticipated rebound in demand failed to materialize.

Electronics exports fell 8.8% to $39.67 billion in 2020 from the revised $43.29 billion the previous year, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.

Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI) President Danilo C. Lachica said the accelerated recovery did not happen as expected after the decline exceeded the industry group’s projection of a 5% drop.

“Demand did not materialize,” he said in a mobile message last Monday.

SEIPI revised its projection to a 5% drop in November, basing the decline on the high cost of operations as firms shouldered employee transportation in response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) restrictions.

The initial projection was a much steeper 20% contraction, but SEIPI had said that prospects were improving as demand for industrial, mobility, consumer, and medical electronics increased and the global economy began its recovery.

Shipments of electronic goods make up a bulk of Philippine total goods exports, accounting for 62% of the value of exports last year. SEIPI combines “electronics products” and “other electronics” in its assessments of government data.

Mr. Lachica said that he does not expect last year’s demand shortfall to have a significant effect on the 7% growth target this year.

Some companies, he said at an online meeting last week, expect to grow by as much as double digits this year. In a mobile message, Mr. Lachica indicated that automotive, commercial, communications, and medical electronics demand will drive growth.

“In terms of our export market destinations, the top ones are Hong Kong — as you know Hong Kong is a hub, and from there it goes to North America, China, and Europe. Next to Hong Kong, we have US, China, Japan, Singapore, and Germany,” he said.

Most imports come from China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Korea, and the United States.

Electronics exports jumped by around 4% in 2019 after hardware demand for new technologies like 5G, wearable, Internet of Things, collaborative robots, and virtual reality drove up overall demand.

The pre-pandemic 2020 target was 5% growth.