Trade gap widens in March

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The country’s trade deficit in goods widened in March as exports declined while imports registered faster growth, the government reported this morning.

Preliminary data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed the March trade deficit at $3.138 billion, higher than the $2.744 billion deficit in February and the $2.340 billion in the same month last year.

Cumulatively, the country’s trade balance posted a $9.801 billion deficit, bigger than the $8.103 billion in 2018’s comparable period.

Merchandise exports declined 2.5% year on year to $5.876 billion from $6.024 billion. The export decline in March marked the fourth straight month of contraction since December 2018.

Meanwhile, import payments rose 7.8% to $9.014 billion during the month. Its growth was faster than February’s 2.6% and March 2018’s 3.2%.


To date, merchandise exports declined by 3.1% to $16.377 billion against the six percent growth goal of the interagency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) for full-year 2019.

On the other hand, import of goods grew 4.7% to $26.179 billion on a cumulative basis against the DBCC’s nine percent projection for the year.

The United States is the Philippines’ top export market in March with a 15.4% share at $906.33 million followed by Japan’s 15.2% ($892.20 million) and Hong Kong’s 14.1% ($829.02 million).

Meanwhile, China was the country’s top source of imports with a 21.4% share ($1.925 billion) followed by Japan’s 9.8% ($882.87 million) and the United States’ 7.9% ($712.43 million). — Christine Joyce S. Castañeda