Trade deficit narrows to lowest level in fifteen months

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The country’s trade-in-goods deficit in June shrank to its lowest point in fifteen months as June imports declined by double-digits.

Preliminary Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed merchandise exports growing by 1.5% to $6.008 billion in June, faster than the one-percent growth in May but slower than the 3.7% growth in June 2018.

On the other hand, the merchandise import bill fell by 10.4% to $8.48 billion in June from $9.469 billion in the same month in 2018. This marked the third straight month of import decline this year.

These flows brought the country’s trade deficit to $2.473 billion in June, which is 30.4% less than the $3.553 billion shortfall in June 2018. The June deficit was the narrowest in fifteen months or since the $2.34-billion trade gap in March 2018.

On a cumulative basis, merchandise exports were down 0.8% to $34.114 billion from $34.397 billion in 2018’s comparable six months. This was below the revised two-percent growth target set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) for 2019.

Year to date, merchandise imports posted a one-percent decline to $53.117 billion from $53.632 billion in January-June 2018, against the DBCC’s revised seven-percent projection for the year.

Cumulatively, the trade deficit declined 1.2% to $19.004 billion compared to last year’s gap of $19.235 billion.

The United States was the Philippines’ top export market in June with a 16.2% share at $974.36 million followed by Japan’s 14.6% ($874.18 million) and China’s 13.7% ($824.85 million) market shares.

The same month saw China as the country’s top source of imports with a 22.8% share at $1.93 billion followed by Japan’s 9.7% ($822.6 million) and Korea’s eight percent ($678.1 million). — Lourdes O. Pilar