Virus slashes imports from China by 14.36%

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IMPORTS from China suffered a year-to-date decline of 14.36 percent to 77,878 containers as several factories in China shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak, latest data from government showed.

Data shared by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III also showed that the number of containers from China was down by an annualized rate of 62.15 percent from February 1 to February 18.

During the period, the number of containers from China settled at only 11,050, down by more than 60 percent from the 29,195 containers recorded last year.

In January, shipments from China expanded by 8.24 percent to 66,828 containers, from 61,741 in the same month in 2019.

Government data obtained by the BusinessMirror showed that in terms of the number of containers, exports to China as of February 16 rose by an annualized rate of 7.48 percent to 3,994 from 3,716 in the same period last year.

In January, exports to China in terms of the number of containers rose by 10.03 percent to 2,765, from 2,513 a year ago.

From February 1 to 16, government data indicated that exports to China in terms of the number of containers grew, albeit at a slower pace. Shipments rose by 2.16 percent to 1,229 containers, from 1,203 last year.

Sought for comment on the latest data, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told the BusinessMirror that he sees this as a “temporary setback” as he hopes that the 2019-novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has already peaked.

“[We are] concerned but in a way we believe that it is a temporary setback because I guess the outbreak of COVID-19 has already peaked,” said Lopez.

Lopez said he got word from the trade attaché in China that employees there are slowly reporting back to work.

“They are reporting for work now. [In the] other provinces outside Wuhan, Hubei, the workers are being told to report to work, so with that we would see a movement towards normalcy. We hope the pace would be faster towards recovery,” he added.

Asked why exports to China recorded an increase despite the COVID-19 outbreak, Bureau of Customs (BOC) Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip Maronilla attributed this to the increasing use of local raw materials by Philippine manufacturers.

“Some exporters that made use of some raw materials from China, such as electronic parts, recorded a decline in outbound shipments,” said Maronilla.

Maronilla noted that the expansion of exports in terms of the number of containers from February 1 to 16 should have been faster.

“Supposedly, the increase should have been at 5 percent if you will compare it with the January data. Usually the deviation is very minimal,” he told the BusinessMirror in a telephone interview.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue also said it expects to lose billions in revenues as large-taxpayer businesses from hotels to malls and even distributors and manufacturers of alcohol products are experiencing weak customer demand.

However, Dominguez on Tuesday assured the public that the government is ready to continuously ramp up spending and use the necessary monetary tools to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus scare.

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