March trade deficit widest in 3 months

THE COUNTRY’S trade-in-goods deficit widened to three-month high in March as merchandise import growth continued to outpace the growth in exports, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported this morning.

Preliminary PSA data showed the value of merchandise exports grew by 5.9% to $7.171 billion in March, easing from 15.8% growth in February and 33.4% in March last year.

This was the lowest pickup in five months or since the 2% pace in October 2021.

Meanwhile, the country’s merchandise imports rose by 27.7% to $12.175 billion in March. This was slower than the 28.6% posted the previous month but faster than 22.1% a year ago.

This matched January’s pace and the lowest in five months or since the 25.2% growth in October last year.

This brought the trade-in-goods deficit to $5.004 billion in March, almost double the $2.759-billion gap a year ago. It was the widest trade gap since December last year’s $5.273-billion shortfall.

In the first quarter, the trade gap further yawned to a $13.892-billion deficit, wider than the $8.345-billion gap registered in the same period last year.

For the three-month period, exports rose by 9.8% year on year to $19.418 billion, above the 6% growth projected by the Development Budget and Coordination Committee this year.

Meanwhile, imports surpassed the 10% growth projection for 2022 with 28% increase during the first three months of the year to $33.309 billion. — B. T. M. Gadon

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