PHILIPPINE merchandise exports closed 2021 with a 14.5 percent growth with value reaching US$74.6 billion, based on preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Despite the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant that has impeded the full recovery of the global economy, Philippine exported goods increased in December, which added $6.3 billion to the country’s export earnings, an increase of 7.1 percent from $5.9 billion in December 2020.

Current exports also grew by 5.2 percent from $70.9 billion in the full year 2019 and nine percent from $5.8 billion in December 2019.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez reported, “December PSA data also showed that seven of the top 10 major commodity groups have recorded increases in annual export sales, in which five of these seven gainers breached their pre-Covid export levels, led by coconut oil (135.2 percent). As sales of coconut oil continue to accelerate, other coconut products are also gaining traction in the global market.”

According to Research and Markets, the demand for coconut products is expected to grow significantly in the future as the consumption of processed food products grows due to the rise in urban populations.

Other commodity groups that recorded large export growths include other manufactured goods (53.5 percent), chemicals (43 percent), machinery and transport equipment (19.2 percent), electronic equipment and parts (16.5 percent), other mineral products (4.9 percent), and electronic products (1.8 percent).

Electronics exports amounted to $3.92 billion in December 2021, which brought year-to-date (YTD) exports to $45.92 billion, 12.9 percent higher compared to January-December 2020. Top Philippine electronics exports last month were components/devices (semiconductors), electronic data processing, other electronics, telecommunication, and consumer electronics.

For December 2021, the US imported $1 billion worth of goods from the country while China imported $925.2 million. Philippine exports in the two markets accounted for 31.4 percent or $23.4 billion of the country’s total exports in 2021.

Meanwhile, preliminary data for 2021 shows that Philippine exports grew in its top five markets: US (18.3 percent), China (17.5 percent), Japan (6.8 percent), Hong Kong (7.6 percent), and Singapore (11.2 percent).

The trade chief said over half of Philippine commodity groups have recovered from the adverse economic impact of Covid-19 and breached pre-pandemic export levels.

He said: “Our focus for the first half of 2022 is to unlock the unrealized export potential of the country and empower our exporters in seizing opportunities in the recovery of global markets. Unlocking trade barriers or frictions alone could add another $20 billion to our export earnings.”

Based on a recent study conducted by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Philippines has an unrealized export potential of $49 billion, of which $20 billion is due to product-market-specific frictions and $29 billion is based on the projected growth of the Philippines and its export markets.

According to the study, these trade frictions are often linked to lack of market knowledge, difficulties in complying with market requirements, and difficulties in matching buyers with the right suppliers, among others. (with PR)