The Philippines is a densely populated island home to 105.9 million residents located in Southeast Asia. The country’s official name is the Republic of the Philippines.
The Philippines shipped US$67.5 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That dollar figure represents roughly 0.4% of overall global exports estimated at $17.546 trillion for the prior year.
Applying a continental lens, two-thirds (66.7%) of Filipino exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries. Another 17.4% was sold to North American importers with 13.8% worth of goods going to Europe. Smaller percentages went to Oceania (1%) led by Australia, Latin America (0.7%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and Africa (0.4%).
Philippines Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing Philippines top 15 trading partners, countries that imported the most Filipino shipments by dollar value during 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Filipino exports.
- United States: US$10.6 billion (15.6% of total Filipino exports)
- Hong Kong: $9.6 billion (14.2%)
- Japan: $9.5 billion (14%)
- China: $8.7 billion (12.9%)
- Singapore: $4.2 billion (6.3%)
- Germany: $2.8 billion (4.2%)
- Thailand: $2.7 billion (4%)
- South Korea: $2.5 billion (3.8%)
- Netherlands: $2.5 billion (3.7%)
- Taiwan: $2.5 billion (3.7%)
- Malaysia: $1.9 billion (2.9%)
- France: $1.1 billion (1.7%)
- Vietnam: $943.8 million (1.4%)
- Indonesia: $866.2 million (1.3%)
- Mexico: $606.7 million (0.9%)
Fastest-growing from 2017 to 2018 among the top trading partners was France (up 38.4%), Indonesia (up 19.6%), Malaysia (up 12.6%), United States (up 9.1%) then China (up 8.5%).
Leading the cutbacks was South Korea via its -41.3% retreat.
The Philippines racked up a -$47.6 billion trade deficit for 2018, up 43.6% from -$33.2 billion in red ink one year earlier.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit. It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
- China: -US$13.9 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
- South Korea: -$9 billion
- Indonesia: -$5.9 billion
- Thailand: -$5.2 billion
- Taiwan: -$3.3 billion
- Malaysia: -$2.4 billion
- Vietnam: -$2.3 billion
- Singapore: -$2.1 billion
- Japan: -$1.9 billion
- Saudi Arabia: -$1.8 billion
Among trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Filipino deficits with Japan (up 103.4%), South Korea (up 99.7%) and Saudi Arabia (up 61.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for the Philippines to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
The Philippines incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- Hong Kong: US$6.4 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
- United States: $2.2 billion
- Netherlands: $1.8 billion
- Mexico: $452.9 million
- Germany: $301.7 million
- Hungary: $157.3 million
- Czech Republic: $142.9 million
- Poland: $141.7 million
- Marshall Islands: $92.6 million
- Iran: $56.2 million
Among trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Filipino surpluses with Iran (up 1,973%), Czech Republic (up 74.6%) and United States (up 64.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018. In addition, the Philippines transitioned from a -$628,000 deficit trading with Marshall Islands in 2017 to a $92.6 million surplus for 2018.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for the Philippines to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Filipino Trading Partners
Ten Filipino corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major companies headquartered in the Philippines that Forbes included:
- Aboitiz Equity Ventures (industrial conglomerates)
- Alliance Global Group (industrial conglomerates)
- Ayala (industrial conglomerates)
- PLDT (telecommunications services)
- San Miguel (industrial conglomerates)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following companies are also examples of Filipino export companies:
- Acbel Polytech Philippines (electric static converters, primary batteries)
- Aruze G A Philippines Branch (machine tools, printers, copiers, operated games)
- Calfurn Mfg Philippines (bamboo/wood furniture, kitchenware, tableware)
- Pacific Paint Boysen Philippines (polymers, oils)
- Yuenthai Philippines (shirts, blouses)
See also Philippines Top 10 Exports, Philippines Top 10 Imports and Top Filipino Trade Balances
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 26, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 26, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 26, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 26, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of the Philippines. Accessed on March 26, 2019
Wikipedia, Philippines. Accessed on March 26, 2019
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on April 11, 2016