May trade deficit widens as imports climb

The country’s trade-in-goods deficit grew slightly in May as imports rose to its five-month high, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported this morning.

Preliminary data from the PSA showed the value of merchandise exports went up by 6.2% year on year to $6.310 billion in May, steady from the revised 6.2% in April but lower than 30.8% in May last year.

Likewise, merchandise imports grew by 31.4% annually to $11.989 billion in May. This was faster than the revised 29.4% in April, but slower than the 55.8% growth in May 2021.

This was the highest import growth in five months or since the 39.1% growth in December 2021.

This brought trade-in-goods deficit — the difference between exports and imports — to $5.679 billion in May, wider than the $3.180 billion deficit a year ago. The trade gap that month was also larger than the revised $5.349 billion deficit in April.

Total trade — the sum of exports and imports — grew by 21.5% to $18.299 billion, up from 20.3% in April, but lower than the 44.9% in May 2021.

Year to date, exports rose by 8.4% to $31.874 billion, above the 7% growth projected by the Development Budget and Coordination Committee for 2022.

Similarly, imports grew by 29% year on year to $56.796 billion in the first five months of 2022. This was also above the revised 18% imports growth penciled in by the government this year.

In the five months to May, the trade balance ballooned to a $24.922 billion deficit from $14.623 billion trade gap a year ago.

Total trade in the first five months rose by 20.8% to $88.670 billion from $73.421 billion in the January-May period last year.