MANILA – The COVID-19 outbreak could lead to a slowdown but it will not be an immediate impact to the country's trade with China since the province of Hubei, where the virus originated, accounts for a very small percentage of the total, a cabinet official said Friday.
Although the COVID-19 outbreak has affected importation for raw materials, Hubei accounts for only 1 percent of the Philippines’ total trade with China, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told DZMM radio.
"Hubei accounts for 1 percent of our trade with China. Ako rin nagulat ganon lang din kaliit siya...Kaya sinasabi natin na may tama ito, na maaaring mag lead nga ito sa slowdown pero hindi napakalaking tama agad," Lopez said.
(I was also surprised that it was that small. That's why we're saying, it could have an impact, it could lead to slowdown but not a sudden impact)
Exports such as electronics, garments and travel goods may be affected by the outbreak but there are also items that are immune, like chemical products, Lopez said.
The Philippine economy may miss the 6.5 percent target gross domestic product (GDP) growth target by 1 percentage point only if the outbreak lasts for the entire year, Lopez said.
"Kung buong taon. Pero kung 2 or 3 buwan hindi magiging ganon ang tama dahil maswerte din tayo 'yun ating local economy, Build, Build, Build, pagikot ng ekonomiya natin yun ang malakas ngayon," Lopez said.
(If it lasts the entire year. But if it's just 2 to 3 months, the impact won't be like that because we're lucky that our local economy, the BBB, our economy is strong.)
The government is “brainstorming” on preventive measures against the impact of the COVID-19 such as reduction in interest rates and lowering of tariffs, among others, Lopez said.
President Rodrigo Duterte's economic team "will recommend appropriate measures in due time," Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado earlier said.