‘Exports on way to recovery’-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Sunday, July 8, 2012
IF THE region’s first quarter results are an indication, the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) 7 believes the export industry on its way to recovery.
Neda 7 Assistant Regional Director Efren Carreon earlier said that they saw a spike in imports for the last quarter of 2011. He surmised that most imports are for raw materials used in export products and they had assumed this would mean a better export performance this year.
First quarter results provided to Sun.Star Cebu by Carreon showed that export sales in Central Visayas rose by 20.2 percent to $745 million from $619 million for the same period last year.
The report from Neda 7 stated that the national figures would suggest that the electronics sector of the export industry has started to recover, with electronics exports for the first three months of the year higher by 5.6 percent compared to the same period the year before.
They also noted that Cebu furniture exporters saw an increased interest of buyers for their products during the Manila Fame trade show last March.
“The positive performance of the industry in the first quarter of 2012 could be taken as an indication that the export industry is on its way to full recovery,” the Neda report stated. “We are also optimistic that the export industry, which used to be one of the growth drivers of the regional economy, would come out stronger this year as it takes advantage of the expected market recovery and opportunities from new markets in Asia.”
For the agriculture sector, Neda 7 reported a “modest increase in production” of 0.9 percent. While crops, livestock and poultry products increased production by 0.9, two and four percent, respectively, the fisheries sector decreased production by 0.5 percent. The agency credited good weather conditions for the increase in yields.
In the production of rice and corn, Cebu showed a drop of five percent.
Of the four provinces in the region, only Bohol realized production increases in cereals production, 3.2 percent for rice and 45.6 percent for corn. Negros Oriental posted a double-digit increase in rice production at 32.3 percent but incurred eight percent in losses in corn production. In the case of Siquijor, rice production dropped 6.7 percent but corn production rose 62.7 percent.
In terms of inflation, Neda noted that the prices of commodities for the first quarter were more stable that during the last half of 2011. All commodity groups including electricity, gas and other fuels posted single-digit inflation rates during the period and the region’s inflation rate averaged 2.1 percent, lower than the 3.1 percent national average. Neda 7 saw an improvement in the labor market for the first quarter, which was credited to the sustained growth of the regional economy.
Employment rate rose to 92.8 percent during the April round of the Labor Force Survey from 92.5 percent during the previous survey period.
“Although the employment rate of the region in the first quarter of 2012 failed to match the employment rate recorded during the April 2011 survey at 93.8 per cent, still it was better compared to the results of the April round surveys in 2010 and 2009,” the report stated.
Still, Neda said Central Visayas should strive to generate more employment opportunities in the succeeding quarters if it wants to achieve its target employment rate of at least 93.5 percent.
Despite the better employment rate, Neda 7 lamented the persistence of underemployment. Neda 7 noted that the proportion of underemployed workers to the total number of employed workers in the region exceeds 20 percent since October 2011.
In the April round of the Labor Force Survey, the region recorded an underemployment rate of 22.4 percent, which was higher than the January 2012 and October 2011 rounds, which were at 20.5 and 21.4 percent, respectively.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 09, 2012.