Trade deficit narrows in November

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The country’s trade-in-goods deficit narrowed in November as both imports and exports declined, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported this morning.

Payments of import goods amounted to $8.94 billion in November, eight percent less than the $9.71 billion in the same month last year. This was lower than the 10.8% decline seen in October, albeit a reversal from the 9.6% growth in November 2018.

The latest reading marked the eighth consecutive month of decline for imports.

Meanwhile, the value of merchandise exports edged down 0.7% annually to $5.60 billion in November from $5.64 billion a year ago. This marked a turnaround from the revised 0.3% uptick recorded in October and the one-percent growth last year.

The decline in both imports and exports led to a narrower trade deficit of $3.34 billion in November, compared to a $4.07-billion gap in the same month in 2018.

To date, the merchandise import bill declined by 4.6% to $99.15 billion from $103.94 billion in 2018’s comparable 11 months, below the two-percent growth target set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) for 2019.

Meanwhile, export receipts decreased by 0.02% to $64.56 billion on a cumulative basis against the DBCC’s one-percent growth target set for the year.

That brought the year-to-date trade balance to a $34.59-billion deficit, smaller than the $39.36-billion shortfall in January-November 2018.

In November, Japan was the Philippines’ top export market with a 16.6% market share at $930.79 million, followed by the United States’ 15.9% ($890.06 million) and Hong Kong’s 13.9% ($776.57 million) market shares.

Meanwhile, China was the country’s top source of imports that month with a 22.9% share in November ($2.05 billion), followed by the 10% and 7.5% market shares of Japan ($894.42 million) and the US ($668.81 million), respectively. – Mark T. Amoguis