The country’s trade-in-goods deficit narrowed in April as merchandise exports grew while imports declined, although this did not prevent the year-to-date trade gap from increasing, according to data the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released earlier this morning.

In a preliminary report, the PSA said merchandise exports increased by 0.4%, marking the first time it posted growth in five months or since the 1% growth logged in November 2018. April’s export receipts amounted to $5.51 billion versus the $5.91 billion in March and $5.48 billion in April 2018.

On a cumulative basis, merchandise exports were down 2.1% to $21.92 billion from $22.39 billion in 2018’s comparable four months. This was below the six-percent target set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) for full-year 2019.

On the other hand, the merchandise import bill fell by 1.9% to $9 billion in April from $9.2 billion in the same month in 2018. This is the first time it posted a decline in four months or since Dec. 2018’s -4.9%.

Year to date, merchandise imports posted a 2.9% growth to $35.18 billion from $34.19 billion in January-April 2018, against the DBCC’s nine-percent projection for the year.

These flows brought the country’s trade deficit to $3.5 billion in April, 5.4% less than the year-ago $3.7 billion.

Cumulatively, however, the country’s trade balance grew by 12.4% to $13.26 billion compared to last year’s $11.8 billion.

The United States is the Philippines’ top export market in April with a 16.5% share at $906.98 million followed by China’s 14.6% ($804.39 million) and Japan’s 14.2% ($780.99 million) market shares.

Meanwhile, China remained the country’s top source of imports for the month with a 23.9% share ($2.15 billion) followed by Japan’s 9.2% ($827.73 million) and South Korea’s 7.9% ($710.41 million) market shares. — Carmina Angelica V. Olano