Export growth slows in February

Published by rudy Date posted on April 13, 2011

MERCHANDISE exports growth eased to single digits in February, a slowdown both government and industry officials said reflected a normalization from last year’s rebound.

Outbound shipments grew by 8.2% to $3.864 billion during the month, the National Statistics Office (NSO) yesterday reported, the slowest since November 2009 when exports began to recover from the global downturn.

“We are going towards a normal growth rate,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano W. Paderanga, Jr. said.

Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc., called the slowdown “natural [because] last year was a recovery for both exports and imports.”

On a monthly basis, exports were down 3.4% from January’s $4 billion.

Electronics, still the country’s top export at 52.2% of the total in February, dipped by 2.7% year-on-year and by 5.9% month-on-month.

Mr. Ortiz-Luis, also vice-chairman of the public-private Export Development Council, said the 10% growth forecast for 2011 would be maintained.

This year’s outlook is down significantly from last year’s 34% surge.

Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI) President Ernesto B. Santiago said his organization was also keeping its 12% growth target for the year.

“We expect a rebound driven by normal business growth in the second half,” Mr. Santiago said.

The same outlook was offered by University of Asia & the Pacific (UA&P) economist Cid L. Terosa, who said: “Electronics will pick up by the third and fourth quarters [following the] seasonal trend.”

Japan was the top export destination in February, with a 17.2% share or $665.7 million, up 6.2% from a year earlier. It was followed by the United States, which had a 16% share or $616.89 million, up by 2.2 %. The third-biggest market was China, which accounted for 11.2% or $433.8 million, a 46.5% increase.

The impact of a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, said Mr. Ortiz-Luis, may be “temporarily reflected in March.”

Exports “may probably go down for the next month … [but] in a few more months, we see opportunities in rehabilitation” that could start “by the end of April.” — K. J. Q. Ang, Businessworld

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