The export sector is expected to slightly recover and post a flat to positive growth in 2017 due to increased trade with China and Russia and as economies of the country’s major markets pick up.
“Well, it is going to pick up and hopefully go beyond zero to positive. Exports to China, especially in terms of agricultural food, agricultural goods; and our fruits will be more welcome in China,” National Economic and Development Authority Director General Ernesto Pernia told reporters.
Pernia said the performance of agro-industry products were seen to further increase with the renewed and improving relations with China and Russia.
He noted Russia is also interested in Philippine crafts especially those from Cebu, herbal medicine and tourism.
“While we are expanding our trade relations with potential markets, we need to further harness our existing free trade agreements and continue to push for reforms. This will improve our business environment and increase our attractiveness to foreign investors,” the Cabinet official said.
The NEDA chief also expects the growth of the manufacturing sector and the recovery of the country’s major markets boosting exports this year.
“Manufacturing is doing well so in terms of supply to exports, that would not be a constraint. It would be the demand for exports. The United States economy (is) on an uptrend and Japan is also not in the doldrums anymore. Europe is also picking up. So I think it will probably be better,” Pernia added.
Meanwhile, the country’s total merchandise trade grew by 7.3 percent in November 2016 on the back of strong growth in imports.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that total trade grew to USD 12 billion in November 2016, with imports growing by 19.7 percent and mitigating the 7.5-percent drop in exports.
“The surge in trade transactions with East Asia and the ASEAN boosted the performance of imports, which also signals an increase in the purchasing power of Filipinos. We expect that this further increased in December 2016,” said Pernia.
Pernia further said the positive global growth outlook paired with the upcoming ASEAN integration is the perfect opportunity to expand the Philippines’ exports portfolio.
“We must continue to develop our infrastructure and encourage product differentiation and quality upgrading to prepare our micro, small, and medium enterprises, for the upcoming increase in demand from our new trading partners,” he added.
Plaza noted that the government aimed to expand the presence of Islamic banks in the country to facilitate investments from Middle East businessmen.