The Philippines’ overall trade balance encompassing all products totaled -US$47.6 billion in red ink for 2018, up 204.3% from its -$15.7 billion deficit in 2011.
Year over year, the Philippines’ -$47.6 billion trade deficit for 2018 represents a 43.6% uptick from -$33.2 billion one year earlier in 2017.
Petroleum oils and automobiles were major factors behind the Philippines’ highest trade deficits by product, while China and South Korea placed first and second respectively among trade partners with which the Philippines posted the highest negative trade balances.
To put the Philippines’ -$47.6 billion trade deficit metric into perspective, the country’s total external debt encompassing both public and private red ink equaled -$79 billion at March 2019. The Philippines’ external debt is the equivalent of almost twice its negative international trade balance.
Top Filipino Trade Balances by Product and Country
The following 10 major products generated a surplus subtotal of $20.1 billion for the Philippines in its global trade during 2018. Metrics listed below highlight The Philippines’ strongest competitive advantages over worldwide trading partners.
- Electrical machinery: US$6.4 billion (Reversing a -$19.3 million deficit in 2011)
- Computers, optical readers: $3.5 billion (Up 32.8%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $2 billion (Down -12.3%)
- Bananas, plantains: $1.5 billion (Up 219.4%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $1.45 billion (Up 55.7%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $1.1 billion (Up 26.7%)
- Cruise/cargo ships, barges: $1.05 billion (Up 102.9%)
- Refined copper, unwrought alloys: $1.04 billion (Up 0.7%)
- Gold (unwrought): $1 billion (Up 344.8%)
- Coconut/palm/babassu oil: $955.2 million (Down -31.6%)
Electrical machinery transitioned from million dollars in red ink to $6.4 billion in black ink over the 7-year period.
Among the remaining top 9 trade products, the Philippines generated the greatest surplus improvements for gold (up 344.8%), bananas or plantains (up 219.4%) then cruise or cargo ships and barges (up 102.9%).
The 10 major products below accumulated a deficit subtotal of -$28.3 billion for the Philippines in international trade during 2018. the Philippines has demonstrated the severest competitive disadvantages in the exports and imports of the following commodities.
- Processed petroleum oils: -US$5.6 billion (Up 86.6% since 2011)
- Crude oil: -$5 billion (Down -33.5%)
- Cars: -$3.7 billion (Up 214.9%)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: -$3.2 billion (Reversing a $1 billion surplus)
- Miscellaneous aircraft, spacecraft (e.g. helicopters, launchers): -$2 billion (Up 476.5%)
- Phone system devices including smartphones: -$2 billion (Up 254.3%)
- Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished): -$1.8 billion (Up 2,182%)
- Trucks: -$1.76 billion (Up 346.8%)
- Wheat: -$1.7 billion (Up 76.1%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: -$1.6 billion (Up 214%)
The Philippines’ red ink in global trade expanded at the fastest rate for the following products: iron or non-alloy steel products (up 2,182%), miscellaneous aircraft and spacecraft (up 476.5%), trucks (up 346.8%) and mobile phones (up 254.3%).
In addition, trade in electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies went from a $1 billion surplus in 2011 to a -$3.2 billion product deficit for the Philippines for 2018.
In 2018, the Philippines generated a surplus subtotal worth $11.8 billion with the following 10 trading partners.
- Hong Kong: US$6.4 billion (Up 204.1% since 2011)
- United States: $2.3 billion (Up 1,337%)
- Netherlands: $1.8 billion (Up 29.2%)
- Mexico: $452.9 million (Up 56.1%)
- Germany: $315.6 billion (Up 38.9%)
- Hungary: $157.3 million (Down -1.7%)
- Czech Republic: $142.9 million (Up 187.7%)
- Poland: $141.7 million (Up 288.5%)
- Marshall Islands: $92.6 million (Down -30.9%)
- Iran: $56.2 million (Reversing a -$755.8 million deficit)
Beyond the deficit-reversal with Iran, Philippines’ surpluses from the following top trade partners grew at the fastest pace from 2011 to 2018: United States (up 1,337%), Poland (up 288.5%), Hong Kong (up 204.1%) and Czech Republic (up 187.7%).
Among the top 10 surplus countries, only the Philippines’ positive net exports with two countries shrank in value: Marshall Islands (down -30.9%) and Hungary (down -1.7%).
The Philippines experienced a losing international trade relationship with 110 countries or territories. Leading the pack were the following 10 trade partners, generating a -$47.7 billion deficit subtotal for 2018.
- China: -US$13.9 billion (Up 3,350% since 2011)
- South Korea: -$9 billion (Up 266.6%)
- Indonesia: -$5.9 billion (Up 205.6%)
- Thailand: -$5.2 billion (Up 201.1%)
- Taiwan: -$3.3 billion (Up 37.1%)
- Malaysia: -$2.4 billion (Up 40.9%)
- Vietnam: -$2.3 billion (Up 1,078%)
- Singapore: -$2.1 billion (Up 139.7%)
- Japan: -$1.9 billion (Reversing a $1.8 billion surplus)
- Saudi Arabia: -$1.8 billion (Down -43.3%)
Filipino trade with Japan transitioned from surplus to deficit from 2011 to 2018. Among the remaining 9 trade partners, the Philippines’ deficits expanded at the fastest percentage pace with China (up 3,350%), Vietnam (up 1,078%), South Korea (up 266.6%), Indonesia (up 205.6%) then Thailand (up 201.1%).
Saudi Arabia was responsible for a -43.3% shrinkage in red ink for the Philippines in its international trade over the 7-year period.
See also Philippines Top 10 Exports, Philippines Top 10 Imports and Philippines Top Trading Partners
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 August 9, 2019
Trading Economics, Philippines Total Gross External Debt , Summary. Accessed on August 9, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of the Philippines. Accessed on March 26, 2019
Wikipedia, Philippines. Accessed on March 26, 2019