Year over year, the Philippines’ -$26.9 billion trade deficit for 2020 reflects a -36.9% reduction from the -$42.6 billion negative trade balance one year earlier in 2019.
Petroleum oils, mobile phones, cars, wheat and medications were major factors driving the Philippines’ highest trade deficits by product. China, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia took the top 5 places among major trade partners resulting in the Philippines’ the highest negative trade balances.
To put the Philippines’ most recent -$28.9 billion trade deficit metric into perspective, the country’s total external debt encompassing both public and private red ink equaled -$83.6 billion one year earlier. Based on that metric, the Philippines’ external debt is the equivalent of almost three times its negative international trade balance.
Top Filipino Trade Balances by Product and Country
The following 10 major products generated a surplus subtotal of $19.3 billion for the Philippines in its global trade during 2020. Metrics listed below highlight the Philippines’ strongest competitive advantages over worldwide trading partners.
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: US$7.1 billion (Up 1,289% since 2013)
- Computers, optical readers: $2.5 billion (Down -29.7%)
- Bananas, plantains: $1.6 billion (Up 66.9%)
- Refined copper, unwrought alloys: $1.48 billion (Up 152.9%)
- Printing machinery: $1.45 billion (Up 1,225%)
- Gold (unwrought): $1.2 billion (Up 861.8%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $1.08 billion (Down -25.9%)
- Nickel ores, concentrates: $1.06 billion (Up 3.7%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $1.04 billion (Down -34.3%)
- Coconut/palm/babassu oil: $748.2 million (Down -23.8%)
The Philippines generated the greatest percentage surplus improvements for integrated circuits and microassemblies (up 1,289% since 2013), computers including optical readers (up 1,225), bananas or plantains (up 861.8%) then refined copper plus unwrought alloys (up 152.9%).
The 10 major products below accumulated a deficit subtotal of -$17.4 billion for the Philippines in international trade during 2020.
The Philippines has demonstrated the severest competitive disadvantages in the exports and imports of the following commodities.
- Processed petroleum oils: -US$4.3 billion (Down -4.3% since 2013)
- Phone system devices including smartphones: -$2.8 billion (Up 728.1%)
- Cars: -$1.9 billion (Up 13.8%)
- Wheat: -$1.6 billion (Up 81.1%)
- Medication mixes in dosage: -$1.28 billion (Up 60.4%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: -$1.25 billion (Up 108.1%)
- Trucks: -$1.14 billion (Up 136.2%)
- Crude oil: -$1.12 billion (Down -80%)
- Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished): -$1.07 billion (Up 556.2%)
- Motorcycles: -$994.5 million (Up 268.4%)
The Philippines’ red ink resulting from its global trade expanded at the fastest since 2013 for the following products: mobile phones and other phone system devices (up 728.1%), semi-finished iron or non-alloy steel goods (up 556.2%), motorcycles (up 268.4%), trucks (up 136.2%) and coal including solid fuels made from coal (up 108.2%).
In 2020, the Philippines generated a surplus subtotal worth $12.7 billion with the following 10 trading partners.
- Hong Kong: US$6.3 billion (Up 98.8% since 2013)
- United States: $2.6 billion (Up 181.6%)
- Netherlands: $1.3 billion (Down -6.5%)
- Japan: $1.2 billion (Down -81.3%)
- Mexico: $439.3 million (Up 203.2%)
- Germany: $415.5 million (Reversing a -$79.2 million deficit)
- Czech Republic: $133.7 million (Up 346.8%)
- Switzerland: $125.3 million (Reversing a -$69.9 million deficit)
- Hungary: $92 million (Down -39.8%)
- Poland: $70 million (Up 210.1%)
Philippine surpluses from the following top trade partners grew at the greatest percentage pace from 2013 to 2020 with: Czech Republic (up 346.8%), Poland (up 210.1%), Poland (up 203.2%) and the United States (up 181.6%).
In addition, the Philippines went from posting deficits in 2013 to earning the surpluses shown above trading with Germany and Switzerland.
The Philippines experienced a losing international trade relationship with about 100 countries, territories or islands. Leading the pack were the following 10 trade partners, generating a -$33.9 billion deficit subtotal for 2020.
- China: -US$11.3 billion (Up 621.3% since 2013)
- Indonesia: -$5.4 billion (Up 151.8%)
- South Korea: -$4.5 billion (Up 171.5%)
- Taiwan: -$2.75 billion (Down -12.5%)
- Malaysia: -$2.26 billion (Up 120.1%)
- Thailand: -$2.1 billion (Up 26.6%)
- Singapore: -$1.88 billion (Up 582.5%)
- Vietnam: -$1.85 billion (Up 459.9%)
- India: -$1 billion (Up 129%)
- Russia: -$743.5 million (Down -39.8%)
Filipino trade deficits expanded the most from 2013 to 2020 caused by China (up 621.3%), Singapore (up 582.5%), Vietnam (up 459.9%), South Korea (up 171.5%) and Indonesia (up 151.8%).
There was some shrinkage in red ink for the Philippines in its international trade over the 7-year period, namely with Russia (down -39.8%) and Taiwan (down -12.5%).
See also Philippines Top 10 Exports, Philippines Top 10 Imports and Philippines Top Trading Partners
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 13, 2021.
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 13, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 13, 2021
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 13, 2021
Trading Economics, Philippines Total Gross External Debt , Summary. Accessed on March 13, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of the Philippines. Accessed on March 13, 2021
Wikipedia, Philippines. Accessed on March 13, 2021