EXPORTS DIP FOR FIRST TIME IN 13 MONTHSManila, June 5, 2003 -- Exports fell for the first time in 13 months in April versus a year earlier, as the economic fallout from the deadly SARS virus and the sluggish US economy slowed trade in the region. Exports in April shrank 1.8 percent from the same month last year to $2.698 billion, the National Statistics Office said yesterday. It was the first year-on-year fall after 12 consecutive monthly increases. "It's slow exports heading into the second quarter with SARS and a still sluggish US economy, which in no way is surprising," said David Fernandez, sovereign debt analyst at JP Morgan Chase in Singapore. Exports, which make up about two-fifths of the overall economy, also shrank from a revised $3.093 billion in March. The figures are not seasonally adjusted. Song Seng Wun at G.K.Goh Securities said the lower exports in May were due partly to supply disruptions from the impact of the US-led war on Iraq. Sales to the United States, which takes around 20 percent of Philippine exports, fell 25.07 percent from the previous April. Exports dropped to three big Asian markets - Japan, Singapore and Taiwan - while shipments to Hong Kong, Malaysia, China and Thailand remained strong. Electronics, the Philippines' number one export product, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of sales, were $1.856 billion in April, down 2.2 percent from a year earlier. The government expects exports to grow by between five and eight percent this year. Exports expanded nine percent last year after a 15.5 percent contraction in 2001.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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