MANILA - The country's trade deficit surged to a record in May as imports outpaced exports, official data released on Tuesday showed, underscoring the cause of the peso's drop to its lowest levels in a decade.
The $2.75-billion deficit was the highest since 1980, when external trade data was made available, according to Bloomberg. It also widened from $2.24 billion during the same period last year
The peso weakened to P50.77 to the dollar in early trading from P50.695 on Monday, hovering at its lowest levels since September 2006.
Exports rose for a 6th straight month in May, up 13.7 percent to $5.49 billion, driven by hefty increases in shipments of cathodes and refined copper, coconut oil, other mineral products, the Philippine Statistics Authority said.
Japan was the biggest export market in May but orders shrank 9.4 percent from a year earlier. Shipments to the United States rose 7.1 percent, while exports to Hong Kong and China rose 32.7 percent and 17.7 percent, respectively, data showed.
Imports climbed 16.6 percent to $8.24 billion, reflecting higher purchases of metal products, transport equipment, iron and steel as the government boosts infrastructure spending. -- with a report from Reuters