38-month high manufacturing index due to earlier reopening of economy – DTI chief

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez attributed the growth in the country’s manufacturing output to the continued easing of economic restrictions amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest report published by global provider IHS Markit noted that the country’s purchasing manager’s index (PMI) jumped to a high of 52.8 in February 2022, an expansion from an index of 50 in January 2022 and the highest since December 2018, even way before the pandemic period.

“The climb in the country’s PMI in February is a result of the consistent and sustained efforts, together with the continued cooperation of our countrymen, in working towards the recovery of our economy. Last month’s performance is an indication of the sector’s solid growth in output, new orders, and exports thanks to easing of mobility curbs as the Omicron surge fades,” Lopez said.

He explained, “Even before we shifted to Alert Level 2, we have allowed 100% operating capacity for all manufacturing, and all exports activities. Thus, with the recent de-escalation of Metro Manila and other provinces to Alert Level 1, we expect March PMI to remain above 50 on sustained manufacturing growth recovery, underpinned by economic reopening and greater mobility.”

The PMI considers new orders, output, employment, suppliers’ delivery time, and stocks. Readings above 50 signal growth and below that, a contraction.

The latest report showed a resumption of improvement in the Philippines manufacturing sector and indicated the strongest improvement in the health of the sector since December 2018. Growth was centered on expansions in both output and new orders with the rate of increase in the former the quickest for over three years.

Following the effects of the aftermath of typhoon Odette and the surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant last month, IHS Markit observed that the boost in new orders and buying activity of manufacturers were due to improvements in the domestic demand environment and has been the sharpest in over three years.

Exports also rose during the month, bringing an end to four successive months of contraction.

“We look forward to a full economic recovery this year as we recently de-escalated to Alert Level 1. Barring other issues, we project to surpass the 2019 gross domestic product (GDP) levels this year and we remain committed to strengthening our efforts and in adapting our responses to ensure the safety of our countrymen as we reopen more sectors,” said Secretary Lopez.