Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Philippine peso depreciated by -4.5% against the US dollar since 2016 but appreciated by 4.2% from 2019 to 2020. Stronger local currency in the Philippines compared to 2019 makes exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers in 2020.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 89.1% of products exported from Philippines were bought by importers in: Japan (15.5% of the global total), United States (15.2%), China (15.1%), Hong Kong (14.2%), Singapore (5.9%), Thailand (4.5%), South Korea (4%), Germany (3.7%), Taiwan (3.2%), Netherlands (3%), Malaysia (2.7%) and Vietnam (2%).
From a continental perspective, 70.1% of Philippines’ exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 16.7% were sold to importers in North America. Philippines shipped another 11.6% worth of goods to Europe. Smaller percentages went to Oceania led by Australia (0.7%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.6%) and Africa (0.2%).
Given the Philippines’ population of 108.9 million people, its total $63.9 billion in 2020 exported products translates to roughly $600 for every resident in the densely populated Southeast Asian island.
Philippines Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Filipino global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from the Philippines.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$31.7 billion (49.7% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $9.5 billion (14.9%)
- Fruits, nuts: $2.3 billion (3.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.8 billion (2.8%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $1.7 billion (2.7%)
- Copper: $1.7 billion (2.7%)
- Gems, precious metals: $1.4 billion (2.1%)
- Vehicles: $939.1 million (1.5%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $918.8 million (1.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $895.4 million (1.4%)
Philippines top 10 exports accounted for over four-fifths (83%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ores, slag and ash was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 40.6% from 2019 to 2020 propelled by higher international sales of nickel and iron ores and concentrates. The only other top export product to increase copper via a 23.4% gain.
The leading decliner among Philippines’ top 10 export categories was optical, technical and medical apparatus thanks to a -17.6% drop year over year.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Philippines’ Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.
The following types of Filipino product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$5.8 billion (Down by -24.3% since 2019)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.6 billion (Down by -22.9%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $1.2 billion (Up by 59.1%)
- Copper: $1.1 billion (Up by 71.2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $1 billion (Down by -20.5%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $438.3 million (Up by 112.4%)
- Nickel: $377.8 million (Up by 2.8%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $339.3 million (Down by -4.8%)
- Ships, boats: $331.6 million (Down by -19.8%)
- Machinery including computers: $308.2 million (Reversing a -$1.9 billion deficit)
The Philippines has highly positive net exports in the international trade of electronic equipment including consumer electronics. In turn, these cashflows indicate the Philippines’ strong competitive advantages under the electronic equipment category.
The Philippines incurred an overall -$26.9 billion trade deficit in 2020, down -36.9% from -$42.6 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from the Philippines that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country the Philippines’ goods trail Filipino importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$7.4 billion (Down by -41.2% since 2019)
- Vehicles: -$4.2 billion (Down by -43.1%)
- Iron, steel: -$3.1 billion (Down by -16.4%)
- Cereals: -$2.7 billion (Down by -7.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$2.3 billion (Down by -15.7%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$1.7 billion (Down by -5.2%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: -$1.4 billion (Down by -8.9%)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: -$1.4 billion (Down by -4.7%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1.4 billion (Down by -2.9%)
- Other chemical goods: -$1.2 billion (Up by 4%)
The Philippines has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related products notably refined petroleum oils followed by crude oil, coal then petroleum gas.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate the Philippines’ competitive disadvantages in the international fossil fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for the Philippines to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations particularly in alternative energy sources.
Filipino Export Companies
Ten Filipino corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major export companies headquartered in the Philippines that Forbes included.
- Aboitiz Equity Ventures (industrial conglomerates)
- Alliance Global Group (industrial conglomerates)
- Ayala (industrial conglomerates)
- PLDT (telecommunications services)
- San Miguel (industrial conglomerates)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following companies are also examples of Filipino export companies.
- Acbel Polytech Philippines (electric static converters, primary batteries)
- Aruze G A Philippines Branch (machine tools, printers, copiers, operated games)
- Calfurn Mfg Philippines (bamboo/wood furniture, kitchenware, tableware)
- Pacific Paint Boysen Philippines (polymers, oils)
- Yuenthai Philippines (shirts, blouses)
Searchable List of Philippines’ Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from the Philippines during 2020. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2019.
|Rank||Philippines' Export Product||2020 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Computers, optical readers||$3,338,768,000||-28.8%|
|3||Computer parts, accessories||$2,305,305,000||+55.9%|
|6||Electrical converters/power units||$1,767,913,000||-11.3%|
|8||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$1,554,339,000||+23.8%|
|9||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$1,532,623,000||+4.3%|
|11||Nickel ores, concentrates||$1,056,200,000||+75.9%|
|15||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$750,754,000||-16.9%|
|16||Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers||$618,536,000||+0.9%|
|19||Cruise/cargo ships, barges||$550,703,000||-1.2%|
|20||Iron ores, concentrates||$500,318,000||+248.9%|
|21||Phone system devices||$461,719,000||-57.4%|
|22||Radar, radio communication items||$455,691,000||-10.1%|
|23||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$444,569,000||+83.5%|
|24||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$429,430,000||+25.5%|
|25||Cases, handbags, wallets||$418,544,000||-44%|
|27||Nickel matte, oxide sinters||$401,991,000||+2.4%|
|29||Fish, caviar (preserved/prepared)||$370,800,000||+8.5%|
|30||Electric motors, generators||$316,848,000||+33%|
|31||Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates||$276,888,000||-22.6%|
|32||Fruit and vegetable juices||$275,880,000||+53%|
|35||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$239,376,000||+35.8%|
|36||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$231,103,000||-49.8%|
|37||Other machine parts, accessories||$223,715,000||+283.1%|
|39||Rubber tires (new)||$211,563,000||-14.3%|
|40||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$210,203,000||-2.1%|
|41||Air or vacuum pumps||$201,997,000||-2.1%|
|42||Processed petroleum oils||$188,952,000||-16.1%|
|43||Electric storage batteries||$188,129,000||+35.8%|
|45||Magnets including electro-magnets||$171,466,000||-20.1%|
|47||Vegetable saps, extracts||$162,541,000||-19.5%|
|48||Copper ores, concentrates||$160,026,000||-63.6%|
|50||Miscellaneous plastic items||$151,215,000||+1.9%|
|51||Whole fish (frozen)||$151,008,000||+30.3%|
|52||High-voltage switches, fuses||$149,088,000||+48.8%|
|54||Miscellaneous articles, dress patterns||$145,261,000||+358.7%|
|55||Wrist/pocket watches (no precious metal case)||$144,475,000||-26.9%|
|56||Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry||$144,273,000||-21.5%|
|57||Unmanufactured tobacco, tobacco waste||$144,187,000||-10.5%|
|58||Wood carpentry, builders' joinery||$140,548,000||-36.6%|
|59||TV/radio/radar device parts||$136,017,000||-50.8%|
|60||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$135,433,000||+79.7%|
|61||Fibrous cellulosic pulps||$133,396,000||+7.7%|
|62||Electric motor parts||$132,207,000||-27.5%|
|64||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$125,022,000||-23.8%|
|65||Photographic cameras, flashlight apparatus||$124,137,000||+275%|
|66||Carbon/natural mineral products||$120,960,000||-6.1%|
|67||Other organic cleaning preparations||$119,021,000||-23.2%|
|68||Plastic builders' items||$116,026,000||-28.2%|
|69||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$114,986,000||-10.7%|
|70||Video recording equipment||$114,121,000||+32.1%|
|72||Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances||$111,245,000||+600.8%|
|73||Miscellaneous office machines||$109,834,000||-11.8%|
|76||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$106,956,000||-35.1%|
|77||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$104,599,000||-0.9%|
|78||Iron or steel scrap||$103,907,000||-26.8%|
|80||Other measuring/testing machines||$101,224,000||-22.4%|
|82||Sauces, mixed condiments, seasonings||$96,215,000||+18.8%|
|83||Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters||$96,071,000||-21.4%|
|85||Rubber/plastic article making machines||$92,734,000||+1014.5%|
|87||Calculators, accounting/ticket machines, cash registers||$89,987,000||-30.3%|
|88||Laminated wood (including plywood, veneer panels)||$89,257,000||+0.9%|
|89||Fixed vegetable fats/oils||$82,745,000||+63.3%|
|93||Vulcanized rubber items||$78,331,000||-16.8%|
|94||Lenses, prisms, mirrors||$78,139,000||-44%|
|95||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$77,371,000||-18.9%|
|96||Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms||$76,704,000||-20.9%|
|97||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$76,436,000||+0.7%|
|99||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$71,588,000||-17.6%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$57.8 billion or 90.4% by value for all products exported from the Philippines during 2020.
In macroeconomic terms, the Philippines’ total exported goods represent 6.8% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($933.9 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 6.8% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2020 compares to 6.9% in 2019. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Philippines’ total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. The unemployment rate for the Philippines was 8.7% at March 2021, up from 4.5% one year earlier per Trading Economics.
See also Philippines Top 10 Imports, Philippines Top Trading Partners and Top Filipino Trade Balances
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