Domestic trade declines 35.6% in first quarter

TRADE in domestic goods declined by 35.6% in the first quarter to P135.812 billion, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Monday, with trade hindered by mobility restrictions and the disruptions imposed by the Russia-Ukraine war.

According to the PSA’s preliminary Commodity Flow in the Philippines report, the volume of trade in the first quarter was 3.383 million tons, against 4.874 million tons in the previous quarter.

Commodity flow covers all goods transported by water, air, and rail, with shipping accounting for the bulk of the commodities.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort attributed the contraction in the domestic trade data to “the surge in Omicron cases in the early part of the quarter that led to some temporary restrictions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since Feb. 24, that led to elevated prices of oil/energy and other major global commodities.” 

Six out of 10 commodity categories monitored by the PSA reported a decline in trade by value. Among them were: beverages and tobacco, down 4.0%, animal and vegetable oils (-3.1%), chemical and related products (-5.8%), manufactured goods classified chiefly by material (-38.7%), miscellaneous manufactured articles (-1.7%), and commodities and transactions not elsewhere classified in the PSCC (-3.7%).

Food and live animals posted growth of 6.1%, while the value of crude materials, inedible, except fuels was up 12%. Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials were up 323.4%, and machinery and transport equipment up 21.3%.

The Eastern Visayas registered the largest trade surplus in the first quarter amounting to P19.12 billion, with outflows recorded at P30.212 billion. The trade surplus for the Western Visayas was P9.70 billion, with an outflow of P28.393 billion. Central Luzon returned a trade balance of P6.048 billion, with P6.495 billion worth of outflows.

Caraga region remained the top commodity destination with inflows amounting to P31.467 billion, for a trade deficit of P26.996 billion.

Mr. Ricafort expressed optimism in the domestic trade data as the economy reopens and businesses are allowed to operate at full capacity.

“Further recovery in both domestic and foreign tourism, as well as the resumption of in-person/face-to-face schooling, all of which are the missing parts of the economic recovery story, (are) recovering in the right direction and could also support the recovery of many businesses, would also lead to some pick up in domestic trade data, going forward,” he said. — Mariedel Irish U. Catilogo