MANILA - Philippine exports and imports both declined anew in December last year, the state statistics agency said on Wednesday.
The country’s total external trade in goods last month amounted to $13.66 billion, representing a decline of 5.6 percent compared to December 2019, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
While this decline was slower than the 9.9 percent contraction in November, it contrasted with the 6.1 percent growth posted in December 2019.
The PSA said the country’s total export sales in December totaled $5.74 billion, representing a year-on-year decline of 0.2 percent, from a 4 percent annual increase in the previous month and a 21.6 percent annual increase in December 2019.
For the whole of 2020, export earnings amounted to $63.77 billion, or a decrease of 10.1 percent compared to 2019.
One bright spot for exports was personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies, which hit $3.32 million in December --a growth of 709 percent from December 2019.
The annual growth of export value for these medical items in the previous month was recorded at 1,028.7 percent, the PSA said.
Imports also fell 9.1 percent in December to $7.92 billion.
The PSA noted that the value of imports has been falling for 20 consecutive months since May 2019.
For the whole of 2020, imports totaled $85.61 billion, representing a decline of 23.3 percent from the import value of $111.59 billion posted in 2019.
Falling imports, due to the Philippines' weak domestic economy, have benefitted the peso which was ranked as the best performer in Asia last year.
From P51 to the dollar in January last year, the peso has so far been trading between 48.01 to 48.02 this year.
Philippine economic managers expect the country's gross domestic product to have shrunk 9.5 percent last year, the worst decline since the second world war.
Official GDP figures will be released on Thursday.