Pascual: PHL must diversify exports amid February decline


THE government will focus on attracting investments and developing industries to address the decline in Philippine exports, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said at the weekend.

“Evidently, we need to diversify our export basket, and investments play a key role in developing Philippine capabilities to produce and export more of higher value products,” the Trade chief said in a statement.

Pascual said the government will focus on investment attraction and industry development in sectors where the country has “established capabilities that can serve as a solid foundation for export growth and are well-positioned to seize opportunities in emerging trends.”

He listed these sectors: Industrial, Manufacturing, and Transport, Technology, Media, and Telecommunications, and Health and Life Science.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) announced last week that the country’s export earnings declined 18.1 percent in February 2023. PSA data showed export earnings for the said month amounted to US$5.1 billion.

While the PSA noted that electronic products remained the top export in February 2023 in terms of commodity group, it posted a decline in export earnings by US$765.48 million, year-on-year.

With export earnings amounting to US$ 2.68 billion in February 2023, the electronics sector accounts for 52.7 percent of the country’s exports.

Meanwhile, Pascual said that industry players expect the “decline in exports to be temporary as global investments in semiconductor manufacturing have been increasing significantly.”

As such, Pascual noted, “We need to position the Philippines to take a greater share of this increasingly important global value chain.”

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), he added, “continues to pursue initiatives to strengthen the country’s semiconductor industry.”

In fact, he added, DTI led a delegation to the US’ Consumer Electronics Show (CES) January, in collaboration with the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (SEIPI).

“The country’s participation resulted in potential cooperation between US-based high-tech companies with Philippines-based companies,” DTI said in a statement on Saturday.

The CES 2023 participation was followed through by trade and investment promotion activities during the Presidential working visit to Japan in February where President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. secured “multi-billion” investments in the Philippines’s semiconductor industry.

Meanwhile, to support exporters’ efforts to widen their reach in the Middle Eastern market and beyond, the DTI said it organized an Outbound Business Matching Mission (OBMM) to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in time for Gulfood 2023, one of the world’s largest food and beverage sourcing event based in UAE.

Through the business matching activities, participating Philippine exporters were able to book and negotiate sales worth a total US$10.8 million, DTI said.

“To unlock the export potential of the Philippines, we need to better understand the needs of our clients, utilize our preferential trade arrangements such as Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), make our products and services more visible in international markets through trade promotion, and more importantly, invest and expand our production capabilities to meet the demands of foreign markets,” Pascual said.