Posted at Business Mirror on Monday, 06 February 2012 23:05
THE $8.68-billion (P370.90 billion) trade deficit incurred by the Philippines from January 2010 to November 2011 is proof that local producers have not yet been able to fully exploit the removal of tariffs for almost all farm and industrial products traded among Southeast Asian countries under a regional free-trade scheme.
The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) released its computations for January 2010 to November 2011 showing that the Philippines imported $28.12 billion worth of goods from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). In contrast, the Philippines exported only $19.44 billion worth of goods to them under the Asean Free-Trade Area (Afta) scheme.
“For every $100 [worth of goods] that we export to Asean, we buy back $145 [worth of goods]. Our trade in goods between January 2010 and November 2011 with Asean countries resulted in a deficit against Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam,” NSCB Secretary General Romulo A. Virola said in the agency’s report.
Based on the value of goods traded, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia were the biggest trading partners of the Philippines during the period.
The country recorded a trade deficit of $3.64 billion against Thailand, $3.33 billion against Indonesia and $2.04 billion against Malaysia. This showed that the Philippines imported more than what it exported to those countries.
But the Philippines recorded a surplus of $1.58 billion versus Singapore, meaning, the Philippines sold more goods than it bought from Singapore. The country also recorded surpluses against Brunei, Cambodia, and Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Starting January 1, 2010, more than 99 percent of goods traded among Asean-6 comprising Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, have been brought down to the 0 percent to 5 percent range.
Under the Afta-Common Effective Preferential Tariffs (CEPT) schedule for tariff reduction, each Asean member is allowed to place its products in the normal track, where the commitment is for the tariffs to be reduced to zero by 2010 for Asean-6 and 2015 for the remaining four countries, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam.
NSCB Statistical Coordination Officers Irene T. Talam and Mark C. Pascasio said they used the Foreign Trade Statistics released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) for the computations.
The attached agency of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the exports and imports data for December were not used as these were not yet available.