MANILA - The country's trade deficit widened in September as exports declined while imports surged, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Wednesday.
Total exports slipped 2.6 percent to $5.83 billion in September 2018, from $5.99 billion in the same month last year.
Imports, meanwhile, surged 26.1 percent to $9.75 billion from $7.77 billion in 2017.
Total trade amounted to $15.58 billion, reflecting a 13.5 percent rise from last year.
The United States was still the country's biggest export market, accounting for 16.6 percent of the total shipments. Hong Kong was next, followed by Japan, China and Singapore.
China ranked first among the country's sources of imports, accounting for 19 percent of all imported items. Imports from China reached $1.86 billion or 38.5 percent higher from last year's figure.
South Korea was second in imports, followed by Japan, Indonesia and Thailand.
Analysts have said that the widening trade gap was partly responsible for the weakening of the peso, which hovered near 13-year lows last month.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) noted that purchases of capital goods grew by 25.4 percent in September. It added that capital goods accounted for 32.5 percent of imports from January to September.
“The growth in import of capital goods could indicate that firms are making long-term investments. The import of raw materials and intermediate goods could also indicate the vibrancy of the manufacturing sector as it is expected to sustain its positive growth in the remaining months of 2018,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement.