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January 2023 trade deficit hits five-month high

The Philippines opened the year with a wider trade deficit as exports recorded a bigger contraction than the growth in imports, government data released Tuesday revealed.

Preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the balance of trade in goods (BoT-G) posted a $5.738-billion deficit, wider than the $4.503-billion deficit in December and the $4.513-billion deficit in January 2022.

This is the biggest trade deficit in five months, since the country recorded a $6.430-billion deficit in August 2022.

A trade deficit indicates that the country imported more than it shipped out goods during a period, while a surplus indicates that the country exported more than it brought in goods from other countries.

Exports for the month stood at $5.231 billion, lower than the $5.799 billion in December, and 13.5% less than the $6.045 billion recorded in the same month of 2022.

In terms of export receipts, six commodity groups recorded annual decreases, with coconut oil down by 39.1%, cathodes by 39.0%, metal components by 19.8%, electronic products by 19.2%, chemicals by 14.6%, and other manufactured goods by 11.9%.

Growths were seen in the exports of other mineral products up by 41.2%, gold by 29.3%, machinery and transport equipment by 20.7%, and ignition wiring sets by 15.0%.

Japan was the biggest export partner of the country in the year, accounting to $866.25 million or 16.6% of the total exports during the month, followed by USA with $738.26 million, China with $666.99 million, Hong Kong with $530.16 million, and Singapore with $318.47 million.

Imports for the month were $10.970 billion, up from $10.302 billion in December and 3.9% higher than the $10.559 billion in January 2022.

The biggest jump was seen in the imports of metalliferous ores and metal scrap up 333.5%, followed by mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials up 70.6%; telecommunication equipment up 15.2%; other food and live animals up 6.4%; transport equipment up 3.7%; industrial machinery up 3.4%; and miscellaneous manufactured articles up 2.2%.

Declines were seen in cereals and cereal preparations which slipped by 18.4%, electronic products by 12.9%, and iron and steel by 7.7%.

China remained as the biggest supplier of imported goods, accounting for $2.32 billion or 21.1% of the total for the month.

It was followed by Indonesia with $1.16 billion or 10.6%, Japan with $958.70 million or 8.7%, South Korea with $866.19 million or 7.9%, and the USA with $696.99 million or 6.4%.

The latest figures brought the total external trade for the month to $16.201 billion, slightly higher than the $16.101 billion in December but 2.4% lower than the $16.604 billion in January 2022. —KG/AOL, GMA Integrated News