EXPORTS DIP FOR FIRST TIME IN 13 MONTHS

Manila, 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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