Agri trade contracts 14.9% in Q2
BY JANINE ALEXIS MIGUEL
The Manila Times
THE Philippines’ agricultural trade contracted by 14.9 percent to $5.93 billion in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Friday. The country’s total agricultural exports during the second quarter, which accounted for 27.2 percent of the country’s total trade, fell to $1.61 billion or a 24.4 percent drop from $2.13 billion a year earlier. Imports of farm goods also dropped by 10.7 percent to $4.32 billion from $4.84 billion yearon-year. The agriculture trade balance during the second quarter was at a deficit of P2.703 billion, or a 0.02-percent dip from the $2.708 billion of the same period in 2022. Edible fruits and nuts and peels of citrus fruit melons accounted for the largest share of agriculture exports during the second quarter of this year at $521.86 million, down by 1.28 percent from the previous year’s $528.63 million. Animal or vegetable fats and oils, and their cleavage products; prepared edible fats; and animal or vegetable waxes — the previous year’s top export at $703.2 million — fell by 58.06 percent to $294.89 million in the second quarter of this year. Preparations of vegetables, fruit, nuts or other parts of plants reached $193.79 million, a decrease of 18.44 percent from the $237.61 recorded a year earlier. Shipments of tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes reached $126.92 million, and preparations of meat, fish and crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates totaled $116.26 million to round up the country’s top five agricultural exports for the second quarter of this year. The top 10 commodity groups in terms of value of agricultural exports contributed $1.56 billion or 96.9 percent of the country’s total agricultural export revenue in the second quarter of 2023. As for agricultural imports, cereals accounted for the biggest share, worth $888.23 million or 20.6 percent of the total. Residues and waste from food industries and prepared animal fodder followed with $518.04 million; meat and edible meat offal at $459.84 million; miscellaneous edible preparations at $452.35 million; and dairy produce, birds’ eggs, natural honey, and edible products of animal origin at $303.88 million. Malaysia was the top buyer of the Philippines’ agricultural exports at $53.01 million among Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries. Meanwhile, among the European Union member countries, the Netherlands was the top destination for Philippine agricultural commodities at $125.48 million. Sought for comments, chief economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Michael Ricafort attributed the decline in agricultural exports to slower global economic growth and trade amid the risk of an economic slowdown in the United States, the world’s largest economy. Ricafort also cited the “softer” economic data in China, the world’s second-largest economy, the biggest importer of some major global commodities, and also among the biggest trading partners and export markets of the Philippines. “Still relatively lower global commodity/agricultural prices in recent months as of second quarter 2023 could have also led to the year-on-year decline in both agricultural exports and agricultural imports,” he said. Ricafort also cited the storm damage from the previous months as one of the causes for the country’s lower agricultural exports and warned of the possible effects of the El Niño from the last three months of 2023 to the first quarter of 2024 in reducing rainfall and local agricultural output and exports. “Thereby, it (El Niño) would lead to more agricultural imports and would also lead to a wider agricultural trade deficit,” he said. “Higher local and world prices of rice and other agricultural commodities since 2022 could somewhat reduce demand for both agricultural exports and imports, as seen in recent months,” Ricafort added.