MERCHANDISE exports grew in May 2010 by 37.3 percent year-on-year amounting to US$4.2 billion due to increases in exports of manufactured goods and agricultural products, according to preliminary reports from the National Statistics Office.

"This is the fifth executive month that exports registered positive year-on-year growth as global trade continued to recover. The growth was supported by increases in exports of manufactured goods (40.1 percent), total agro-based products (54.7 percent), and forest products (81.8 percent)," National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Director-General Augusto B. Santos said in his memorandum to the president.

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Export revenues for the first five months of the year amounted to almost US$19.2 billion, 38.7 percent higher than the same period in 2009.

Manufactured goods export increased by 40.1 owing to the continued increase in electronic products (41.0 percent), machinery and transport equipment (50.9 percent), and garments (36.9 percent), the three traditionally largest export groups. "The considerable rise in electronic exports followed the worldwide trend as global sales of semiconductors rose by 47.6 percent in May as reported by the Semiconductor Industry Association," Santos said.

Quoting industry sources, Santos also said sales of computation and communications products are up fueled by emerging markets, including China and India. Automotive sales are slowly recovering and demand from the corporate information technology and industrial sectors are likewise starting to come back.

Continuous improvement in the following months is expected as the North American Semiconductor Equipment Industry reported that a book-to-bill ratio of 1.12 was recorded in May 2010. “This implies that $112 worth of orders for semiconductor equipment was received for every $100 of products billed for the month, Santos said.

Meanwhile, the increase in exports receipts of total agro-based products was supported by the growth in coconut products (141.3 percent) and other agro-based products (53.4 percent) such as shrimps and prawns, raw tobacco, natural rubber, and dried seaweeds.

The US was the biggest buyer in May 2010 with a 16.2 percent share, on account of the 38.9 percent increase in its purchases of Philippine goods.

Japan was the second biggest export destination with a 14.6 percent share.

Other major buyers in May include Singapore, PR China, and Hong Kong SAR.

Total orders from the five biggest buyers in May increased by 39.9 percent from the same month a year ago and by 12.9 percent from the preceding month.

Santos noted that double-digit growth of Asian neighbors’ exports was sustained in May 2010. "Major export-oriented economies in East and Southeast Asia like Taiwan ROC (49.9 percent), PR China (48.5 percent), Thailand (42.1 percent) and South Korea (40.5 percent), posted significant double-digit increases in May 2010," he said. (PR)