The country’s trade-in-goods recorded a lower deficit in October as imports continued to decline while exports were flat, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported this morning.

The value of merchandise exports went up 0.1% annually to $6.32 billion in October from $6.31 billion a year ago. This was a turnaround from the 1.2% decline recorded in September, albeit slower than the 6.7% growth in October 2018.

On the other hand, import payments fell 10.8% year-on-year to $9.57 billion in October, slightly faster than the 10.5% decline seen in September, but a reversal from the 26.2% growth seen in October 2018. The latest reading marked the seventh consecutive month of decline for imports.

October’s trade deficit figured at $3.25 billion, compared to a $4.42-billion gap in the same month last year.

To date, export receipts were up 0.03% to $58.96 billion from $58.94 billion in 2018’s comparable 10 months. This remained below the two-percent target set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) for 2019.

Meanwhile, the merchandise import bill declined by 4.3% to $90.22 billion on a cumulative basis against the DBCC’s seven-percent target set for the year.

That brought the year-to-date trade balance to a $31.26-billion deficit, smaller than the $35.29-billion gap in January-October 2018.

The United States was the Philippines’ top export market in October with a 17% market share at $1.07 billion followed by Japan’s 15.4% ($971.68 million) and Hong Kong’s 14% ($882.79 million) market shares.

Meanwhile, China was the country’s top source of imports with a 21.8% share in October ($2.08 billion) followed by 9.7% and 7.2% market shares of Japan ($925.69 million) and South Korea ($686.34 million), respectively. — Carmina Angelica V. Olano