Philippine-Japan trade fell by more than half in April amid pandemic

Kyodo News

Posted at Jun 10 2020 09:09 PM

MANILA - Trade between the Philippines and Japan has been walloped by the coronavirus pandemic, with both exports and imports falling by more than half in April compared with the previous year, government figures showed Wednesday.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority shows the value of exports to Japan dropped by 54 percent in the last month for which figures are available, from $789.4 million to $363.4 million, year-on-year.

Likewise, imports from Japan in the same month declined by 60.1 percent, from $897 million to $357.5 million.

In terms of exports to Japan, noticeable drops were seen in industry-critical commodities such as wiring sets, which fell by 91.1 percent, iron and steel, by 85.6 percent, metal components, by 78.2 percent, and non-metallic mineral manufactures, by 66.4 percent.

Significant losses in agricultural and fishery exports to Japan were also recorded, including tuna shipments dropping by 26.5 percent, lumber by 66 percent, coconut oil by 96.3 percent, and fruits and vegetables by 55.8 percent.

"The main reasons for this decline would be the global supply chain's disruption and the world economic slowdown due to COVID-19," Takashi Ishihara, executive director JETRO Manila, the local branch of the Japan External Trade Organization, told Kyodo News.

Nobuo Fujii, executive director of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines, attributed the export decline to business disruptions caused by the pandemic that caused a lull in manufacturing activities.

"We can operate at most 50 percent capacity," Fujii, who has long been in the export and manufacturing industry, said.

The Philippine government implemented a wide-scale lockdown of the country's largest and most populous island, Luzon, beginning mid-March to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Similar lockdowns were ordered in many other provinces and cities, shutting down businesses and other key industries, before easing in mid-May and further at the start of June to allow partial operations.

According to JETRO, Japan's imports from the Philippines last year totaled $10.63 billion, while its exports to the country totaled $10.13 billion.

In 2018, the Philippines was Japan's 16th largest export partner and 18th largest import partner, according to Japanese Finance Ministry statistics.