PHILIPPINE EXPORTS are showing signs of a recovery, despite elevated inflation and rising pump prices, an official of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) said.

“It is recovering, it is going up. Slowly but surely, it is increasing, but not as fast as we would like it to be,” Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Philexport, told reporters last Thursday.

He expressed hope that Philippine exports would achieve the target under the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2023-2028. Under the PEDP, the country’s total merchandise and services exports are projected to reach $126.8 billion in 2023.

“I think we should be achieving near to it. I think we have a fighting chance to meet the targets. Although [still] lower than last year, it is increasing now,” Mr. Ortiz-Luis said.

He said the industry now expects to hit its target of $150 billion in export value in three years.

“(Target was moved) because of the challenges that are happening. We did not anticipate the prices of fuel (going up) and although the inflation is going down, it was not as low as what was projected before, which is around 4%,” he said.

Headline inflation quickened to 6.1% in September from 5.3% in August, marking the 18th straight month that inflation exceeded the central bank’s 2-4% target. Year to date, inflation averaged 6.6%. 

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) sees average inflation at 5.8% for 2023.

Mr. Ortiz-Luis noted exporters are again facing challenges from rising fuel costs. “We cannot control some of the challenges, for example the fuel cost, we were so happy when it went down, but now, it is going up again.”

Last week, oil companies raised pump prices by P0.95 per liter of gasoline, by P1.30 per liter of diesel, and by P1.25 per liter of kerosene. This brought year-to-date price adjustments as of Oct. 24 to P12.25 per liter for gasoline, P11.70 per liter for diesel, and P7.74 per liter for kerosene.

The Development Budget Coordination Committee is projecting a 1% growth for exports and 2% for imports this year.

In the eight months to August, exports fell by 6.6% to $47.81 billion, while imports dropped by 9.6% to $84.12 billion.

For the first eight months, the trade deficit narrowed to $36.31 billion from the $41.86-billion gap during the same period a year ago. — J.I.D.Tabile