CEBU is grappling with falling exports, as it shows continued signs of slump amid uncertainties in global trade.
Cebu’s shipments to its key export buyers plunged 17.4 percent in the first nine months of 2019 to US$157 million from $190 million in the same period last year.
Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) Cebu executive director Fred Escalona has remained pessimistic on export prospects.
“We cannot see a clear direction as yet as the trade talks between the US and China seem to produce no promising results,” he told SunStar Cebu.
“The downward trend still continues,” the export official pointed out.
The global mood, according to Escalona, is “still pretty much influenced” by the US-China trade dispute, the Hong Kong unrest, Brexit and the Japan-Korea trade war.
Cebu’s exports slump extends the gloomy outlook for global trade, hurting local exporters.
Based on official data furnished by Escalona, the Cebu International Port processed a total of 4,303 export documents from January to September, down 12 percent from 4,890 in the same period last year.
Cebu’s main port also saw the number of export containers plunging 16 percent to 5,725 from 6,795 last year.
As of June 2019, Cebu’s top export products in terms of value are furniture, dried mango, steel scrap, handicrafts, assorted noodles, frozen seafood and carrageenan, among others.
In terms of volume, top export goods from Cebu include steel scrap, furniture, dried raw seaweed and fresh bananas, among others.
In 2018, the Cebu export sector was also down by 13.81 percent to $246.62 million from $286.12 million in 2017.
The local exports industry has struggled to sustain business growth as global trade activity remains lackluster, with the US-China trade woes weighing on the overall outlook.
Early this year, Philexport-Cebu’s membership dropped 17 percent or by 65 member companies due to the stoppage of operations owing to lack of orders, bankruptcy, relocation to cheaper provinces and change in corporate identity.
The group currently has 330 member companies, down from a high of 420 about four years ago.
Philexport’s membership in Cebu has been dropping at an average of 28 companies annually.
Philexport Cebu represents about 11 types of exporters, namely electronics, industrial goods, furniture, seaweed, food, fashion accessories, gifts, toys and housewares, shellcraft, garments and tourism.
Philexport Cebu is the umbrella organization and the voice of the entire export industry in Central Visayas.
The whole export sector of which 95 percent are small and medium enterprises provides employment to hundreds of thousands of workers in the region.