Trade deficit narrows in December

The country’s trade deficit went down by 11 percent in December last year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

Preliminary data released on Friday showed that the balance of trade in goods or the difference between the value of exports and imports posted a deficit of USD4 billion, down from the USD4.5 billion recorded in December 2022.

Total export sales during the month slightly declined to USD5.78 billion from USD5.81 billion in 2022.

“The commodity group with the highest annual decrement in the value of exports in December 2023 was other mineral products with USD132.99 million,” the PSA said.

This was followed by machinery and transport equipment which declined by USD37.69 million, and electronic equipment and parts with an annual decrease of USD24.69 million.

By major trading partner, exports to Hongkong comprised the highest export value amounting to USD951.14 million.

Other major trading partners include the United States, Japan, People’s Republic of China, and Republic of Korea.

The total value of imported goods on the other hand, amounted to USD9.79 billion, down by 5.1 percent from the USD10.32 billion seen in December 2022.

The commodity group with the highest annual decrement in the value of imported goods was mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials with USD472.37 million; followed by electronic products, which declined by USD328.45 million,; and industrial machinery and equipment with an annual decrease of USD48.99 million.

China was the country’s largest supplier of imported goods valued at USD2.28 billion, followed by Japan, Indonesia, United States, and Thailand.

For the entire 2023, total exports declined by 7.6 percent to USD73.52 billion, while imports likewise contracted by 8.2 percent to USD125.95 billion.

The full-year trade deficit, meanwhile, amounted to USD52.43 billion, down from 2022’s US57.64 billion deficit.

“Higher global interest rates to better manage inflation and inflation expectations led to slower global economy, with a risk of U.S. recession, thereby slowing global demand, global trade, global investments, as unintended consequences, thereby leading the year-on-year decline in both Philippine imports and exports,” Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation chief economist Michael Ricafort said in a comment.

Ricafort said the decline in the prices of oil and other commodities also partly reduced the value of Philippine exports and imports. (PNA)