By Chino S. Leyco
The country’s trade deficit narrowed in April this year after exports slightly increased while imports dropped during the month, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.
The trade gap in April reached $3.5 billion, smaller compared with $3.7 billion in the same period last year after exports rose by only 0.4 percent to $5.51 billion while imports contracted by 1.9 percent to $9 billion.
The marginal increase in exports was due to larger shipments of the country’s top seven products including fresh bananas (76.7 percent), gold (36.1 percent), machinery and transport equipment (28.5 percent), and coconut oil (18.1 percent).
Import shipments of the country’s top five goods, meanwhile, all suffered contraction during the month.
Transport equipment (-27.7 percent), plastic in primary and non-primary form (-14.2 percent), iron and steel (-14.2 percent), industrial machinery and equipment (-10.6 percent) and telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery (-1.0 percent).
“To further drive exports up, we are looking at continuously increasing market access for Philippine products and reforms to improve productivity and lower production costs,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.
To support the export industry in the country, Pernia said that it is crucial to pass the amendments to the Public Service Act, the Foreign Investment Act, and Retail Trade Act.
The successful passage of the TRABAHO Bill will also modernize the country’s tax regime while streamlining the grant of fiscal incentives.
“With the passage of these reforms, we can leverage the Philippines’ attractiveness to both foreign and local investors. These investments can help our industry to improve production efficiency and product diversification,” Pernia added.