February exports rose 11%

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Exports rose 10.7 percent in February from a year ago, led by a significant improvement in the value of agricultural, petroleum and gold exports during the month when commodity prices began climbing to record levels.

The National Statistics Office said merchandise exports amounted to $4.118 billion in February, up from $3.721 billion during the same month last year. This followed a 6-percent growth in exports amounting to $4.231 billion in January.

“This brings total export revenues for the first two months to $8.3 billion or 8.2 percent higher than the same period in 2007,” Economic Planning Secretary Augusto Santos said in a memorandum sent to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Santos said exports growth in February was supported by improving exports of agro-based products which grew by 44.9 percent, petroleum products by 268.2 percent, and manufactures by 6.7 percent.

Electronic exports, accounting for 59.6 percent of the aggregate export revenue in February, went up by 4.7 percent to $2.456 billion.

“Except for components/devices (semiconductor) and office equipment, all other electronic products have showed year-on-year increases ranging from a low of 3.1 percent to a high of 313.3 percent,” said NSO.

Semiconductor exports were down 3.0 percent to $1.73 billion.

Garments exports also fell 11.9 percent to $177.40 million in February while overseas sales of woodcrafts and furniture grew 43.9 percent to $95.29 million.

Agro-based exports, valued at $205 million in February, were bolstered by higher receipts of coconut products (up by 101.2 percent) and fruits and vegetables (up by 13.8 percent). According to the monthly commodity price monitoring report of the World Bank, the prices of coconut oil and banana increased by 8.8 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively.

Exports earnings from petroleum products climbed 268 percent to $124 million on the back of a 61.5 percent increase in international price of crude at $90.02 per barrel in February this year from $55.75/bbl a year ago. Output also rose 112.7 percent to 155,000 gross kilos.

Mineral exports grew 5.5 percent to $181.719 billion in February as gold shipments surged 377 percent on high prices.

Exports to the United States, which remains the Philippines’ largest export market, grew 10 percent to $717.14 million, accounting for 17.4 percent of the total, despite the feared recession in the world’s largest economy.

Sales to Japan rose 16.5 percent to $656.35 million while exports to China fell for the first time by 10.6 percent to $406.38 million.

Other top export markets were Hong Kong, Netherlands, Germany, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia.