THE country’s total external trade in goods amounted to US$19.35 billion in March which indicates an annual growth rate of 18.6 percent.

In the previous month, the annual increase was faster at 23.5 percent, while in March 2021, it grew by 26.6 percent, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported.

Of the total external trade in March 2022, 62.9 percent were imported goods, while the rest were exported goods.

Total export sales in March 2022, amounting to $7.17 billion, up 5.9 percent.

Of the top 10 major commodity groups, four recorded annual increases in terms of the value of exports, led by coconut oil (63.9 percent) followed by gold (40 percent), and other mineral products (19.7 percent).

Total export earnings, that is from January 2022 to March 2022, amounted to $19.42 billion.

Electronic products continued to be the country’s top export in March 2022 with total earnings of $3.96 billion.

Exports to China comprised the highest export value amounting to $1.18 billion or a share of 16.5 percent to the total exports during the month.

US came second at $1.09 billion followed by Japan at $1.04 billion, Hong Kong, $921.27 million and Singapore, $423.67 million.

Surge in imports

Total imported goods, on the other hand, amounted to $12.17 billion, up by 27.7 percent.

The increase in imported goods during the month was due to the increase in all of the top 10 major commodity groups led by medicinal and pharmaceutical products with 152.5 percent annual increase.

This was followed by mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials and cereals and cereal preparations.

The year-to-date annual total import value, that is from January 2022 to March 2022, amounted to $33.31 billion, up 28 percent.

Most of the imported goods were electronic products with an import value of $2.76 billion followed by followed by mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials, valued at $2.58 billion and transport equipment which amounted to $849.74 million.

Imports of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials recorded a positive annual growth of 148 percent from its value in the same month of the previous year.

Contributing to the increase in this commodity group was the hike in the import value of petroleum products used to run motor vehicles (includes diesel fuel and fuel oils, light oils and preparations, and aviation turbine fuel) with a value of $1.81 billion.

In a BPI Analysis, “economic activity in the country continues to improve as shown by the surge in imports. Businesses and consumers have been able to engage in more economic transactions because of the decline in Covid-19 cases.”

It added that, “Capital good imports is almost back to pre-pandemic level amid the recovery of business confidence and their capital expenditures.”

The bank noted that “with the projected increase in imports, it will likely exceed the sum of exports and remittances for the second straight year. As a result, the Peso may continue to depreciate in the coming months.”

China was the country’s biggest supplier of imported goods valued at $2.13 billion, followed by Japan at $1.24 billion, Korea ($1.20 billion), Indonesia ($1.04 billion) and US with $869.84 million.