The Philippines’ overall trade balance encompassing all products totaled -US$42.6 billion in red ink for 2019, a deficit that has swelled 218.8% from a -$13.4 billion deficit in 2012.
Year over year, the Philippines’ -$42.6 billion trade deficit for 2019 reflects a -10.6% downtick from -$47.6 billion one year earlier in 2018.
Petroleum oils, cars and mobile phones were major factors driving the Philippines’ highest trade deficits by product. China, Indonesia and South Korea took the top 3 places among major trade partners costing the Philippines the highest negative trade balances.
To put the Philippines’ most recent -$42.6 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. Based on that metric, 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 $20.7 billion for the Philippines in its global trade during 2019. Metrics listed below highlight the Philippines’ strongest competitive advantages over worldwide trading partners.
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: US$5.5 billion (Reversing a -$1.1 billion deficit in 2012)
- Computers, optical readers: $3.8 billion (Up 4.8% since 2012)
- Electrical machinery: $2.7 billion (Up 15,898%)
- Bananas, plantains: $1.9 billion (Up 198%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $1.4 billion (Up 13.1%)
- Gold (unwrought): $1.27 billion (Up 514.9%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $1.24 billion (Down -18.3%)
- Refined copper, unwrought alloys: $1.16 billion (Up 173.9%)
- Printing machinery: $906.2 million (Reversing a -$46.5 million deficit in 2012)
- Coconut/palm/babassu oil: $849.3 million (Down -14.3%)
Achieving the greatest balance improvements over the 7-year period, integrated circuits and microassemblies transitioned from a formidable -$1.1 billion in red ink to generate a leading $5.5 billion in black ink. The Philippines also benefited from reversing a million-dollar deficit for printing machinery in 2012 to post almost a billion-dollar surplus in the most recent reporting period.
Turning to the remaining top 8 trade products, the Philippines generated the greatest percentage surplus improvements for integrated circuits and microassemblies (up 15,898% since 2012), computers including optical readers (up 514.9%), electrical machinery (up 198%) then bananas or plantains (up 173.9%).
The 10 major products below accumulated a deficit subtotal of -$24.9 billion for the Philippines in international trade during 2019.
The Philippines has demonstrated the severest competitive disadvantages in the exports and imports of the following commodities.
- Processed petroleum oils: -US$7.1 billion (Up 57.9% since 2012)
- Crude oil: -$3.3 billion (Down -53%)
- Cars: -$3.1 billion (Up 90.5%)
- Phone system devices including smartphones: -$2.2 billion (Up 432.4%)
- Trucks: -$1.9 billion (Up 292.7%)
- Wheat: -$1.7 billion (Up 76.2%)
- Motorcycles: -$1.43 billion (Up 484.6%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: -$1.4 billion (Up 127.4%)
- Miscellaneous aircraft, spacecraft (e.g. helicopters, launchers): -$1.39 billion (Up 24.8%)
- Medication mixes in dosage: -$1.33 billion (Up 82%)
The Philippines’ red ink resulting from its global trade expanded at the fastest rate for the following products: motorcycles (up 484.6%), mobile phones and other phone system devices (up 432.4%), trucks (up 292.7%) and coal including solid fuels made from coal (up 127.4%).
In 2019, the Philippines generated a surplus subtotal worth $11.9 billion with the following 10 trading partners.
- Hong Kong: US$5.9 billion (Up 84.5% since 2012)
- United States: $3.2 billion (Reversing a -$183.6 million deficit in 2012)
- Netherlands: $1.6 billion (Up 29.9%)
- Mexico: $491 million (Up 229.1%)
- Czech Republic: $223.2 million (Up 981.1%)
- Hungary: $164.9 million (Up 27.9%)
- Poland: $86.5 million (Up 222.7%)
- Iran: $67.1 million (Reversing a -$325.7 million deficit in 2012)
- Canada: $63.3 million (Down -64%)
- Switzerland: $54.9 million (Down -49.7%)
Beyond the deficit-reversals at the expense of the United States and Iran, Philippine surpluses from the following top trade partners grew at the greatest percentage pace from 2012 to 2019 with: Czech Republic (up 981.1%), Mexico (up 229.1%) and Poland (up 222.7%).
Among the top 10 surplus countries, only the Philippines’ positive net exports with two countries shrank: Canada (down -64%) and Switzerland (down -49.7%).
The Philippines experienced a losing international trade relationship with 94 countries, territories or islands. Leading the pack were the following 10 trade partners, generating a -$44.8 billion deficit subtotal for 2019.
- China: -US$16.1 billion (Up 1,549% since 2012)
- Indonesia: -$6.2 billion (Up 195.3%)
- South Korea: -$5.3 billion (Up 183.3%)
- Thailand: -$4.1 billion (Up 239.8%)
- Singapore: -$2.93 billion (Reversing a $210.1 million surplus)
- Malaysia: -$2.91 billion (Up 81.4%)
- Taiwan: -$2.6 billion (Down -16.9%)
- Vietnam: -$2.4 billion (Up 451.6%)
- India: -$1.3 billion (Up 232.9%)
- Australia: -$1.1 billion (Up 1%)
Filipino trade with Singapore transitioned from surplus to deficit from 2012 to 2019. Among the remaining 9 trade partners, the Philippines’ deficits expanded at the fastest percentage pace with China (up 1,549%), Vietnam (up 451.6%), Thailand (up 239.8%), India (up 232.9%) then Indonesia (up 195.3%).
Taiwan was responsible for a -16.9% 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
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