Philippines posts biggest trade deficit in 5 months

March 14, 2023 - 11:02 AM
Cargo containers are seen at the port area along Manila bay. -- BW FILE PHOTO
  • January trade deficit at $5.74 billion
  • Exports fall 13.5% y/y, most in 3 yrs
  • Imports up 3.9%, first rise in 3 months

 The Philippines posted its widest trade deficit in five months for January as exports fell sharply, pointing to a worsening trade balance that could put pressure on the peso in the near term.

The trade gap in January ballooned to $5.74 billion, the biggest since the record monthly deficit of $6 billion in August, preliminary government data showed on Tuesday.

Exports PHEXP=ECI saw the steepest decline in nearly three years, down 13.5% to $5.2 billion from a year earlier, while imports PHIMP=ECI grew 3.9% to $11 billion from the same period in 2022.

It was the first monthly rise for imports in three months.

The January trade gap was worse than the deficit of around $4.3 billion that ING had projected.

“The persistent trade deficit in the Philippines points to depreciation pressure for…the Philippine peso in the near term,” ING senior economist Nicholas Mapa said.

The peso PHP= has fallen more than 2% since hitting 53.65 per U.S. dollar on Feb. 3, which was the strongest close so far this year. It was at 55.03, as of 0216 GMT.

—Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty