WITH the expected surge for Christmas shopping, the export industry has remained optimistic it will sustain a double digit growth in the second half of this year.

Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc, reported during the Mindanao Exporters Forum at the Mini-Theater of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in Davao City on Thursday, the export industry registered a hefty 37.7 percent rebound during the first half of this year as compared to same period last year.

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Based on the figures released by the National Statistics Office, total exports from January to June this year reached $23.711 billion, topping the country's export performance during the same period last year by $6.5 billion.

"Deliveries in the third quarter of the year are expected to sustain the high growth path shown in the first half. Historical experience during periods of growth indicated that buyers made bigger orders in this quarter for the expected surge for Christmas shopping," Ortiz-Luis told some 100 Mindanao exporters at the forum.

He said industry leaders have projected that if the high double-digit growth from January to June holds, "total exports by the end of the year may come close to reaching figures in 2008" when total merchandise sales abroad hit P49.07 billion.

"This year's total exports are seen to range between $47 billion and $48 billion," Ortiz-Luis said.

He said major export gainer during the first half of the year was coconut oil, which registered a hefty 184.46 percent in six months "with over half a billion dollars in sales." The product, he said, catapulted itself to over-all sixt placer among the country's top ten export goods.

NSO figures during the first half of the year also indicated that about two thirds of the country's top 30 export commodities followed the growth path with Philippine tuna posting its first positive growth in June.

"This prompted us at the Export Development Council to consider an upward revision of industry export growth target for 2010 from 20 percent to at least 25 percent following the higher-than-expected growth in merchandise exports during the first half of the year," Ortiz-Luis said.