Philippines total external trade shrinks 21% as Covid-19 cases near 335,000-mark

A teacher answers a call from a student in need of assistance on distance learning through a hotline programme, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Taguig City, Metro Manila. Covid-19 cases in Philippines in now reaching almost 335,000. - Reuters

The Philippines' total external trade in goods in August declined at an annual rate of 21.0 per cent to US$12.33 billion, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Friday.

"This was higher than its previous month's annual drop of 18.1 per cent, and 2.6 per cent drop in August 2019," the PSA said in a statement.

Of the total external trade in August 2020, the PSA said 58.4 per cent were imported goods and the rest were exported goods.

The PSA said the balance of trade in goods, or the difference between the value of export and import, in August amounted to -US$2.08 billion, representing a trade deficit with an annual decline of 30.9 percent.

In July, the PSA said the trade deficit fell at a faster rate of 48.9 per cent, and at a slower rate in August 2019 at 16.5 per cent.

Exports declined 18.6 percent in August, amounting to US$5.13 billion, from 9.1 per cent drop a month ago. In August 2019, export performance gained at a rate of 1.4 per cent.

The export earnings in August marked the sixth month in a row in which value of export contracted.

The total imported goods in August, which amounted to US$7.20 billion, remained at downtrend with an annual rate of 22.6 per cent.

The PSA said the value of imports contracted for the 16th straight month in August.

In the previous month, the PSA said "the decline was higher at 23.8 per cent, while in August 2019, imports decreased by 5.2 per cent annually."

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases of Covid19 in the Philippines surged to 334,770 with an additional 2,996 reported by the Health Ministry on Friday.

Of the 2,996 newly confirmed infections, the ministry said that 2,554 or 85 percent occurred "within the recent 14 days" from Sept. 26 to Oct. 9.

The ministry said that the number of recoveries rose to 275,307 after 1,045 more patients recovered.

Meanwhile, 83 more patients died from Covid-19, bringing the total death toll to 6,152.

The capital region Metro Manila topped the regions in the South-East Asian country with a highest daily case spike of 1,094 on Friday.

The health ministry reminded the Philippine people to stay safe from and help contain the epidemic by taking simple precautions, including wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands, and avoiding the crowd, despite the report that the Covid-19 cases in the country are on the downward trend.

"We still want to remind everybody that we cannot be complacent at this point. We need to be vigilant and cautious because nothing is certain at this point," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters at an online briefing.

On Oct 6, a team of experts from the University of the Philippines reported that the number of Covid-19 cases in the Philippines had been decreasing in the past two weeks. - Xinhua
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