By Luisa Maria Jacinta c. Jackson
The agri-trade deficit widened by 40% year-on-year to $ 8.92 billion in 2021, as the country imported more agricultural products to meet consumer demand after the economy revived.
According to data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority on Monday, total agricultural imports increased by 25% annually to $ 15.71 billion.
Exports also rose 9.4% to $ 6.79 billion in 2021.
Total trade in agricultural products – or the sum of exports and imports – rose 19.8% to $ 22.491 billion. In 2020, total trade in agricultural products has shrunk by 7.1%.
Agricultural imports accounted for 13.3% of the country’s total imports in 2021.
Among the commodity groups, the largest share of grain, or 20%, was imported in 2021, valued at 15 3.15 billion. This was followed by imports of residues and waste from the food industry and the preparation of াদ 1.86 billion worth of animal feed and miscellaneous edibles worth $ 1.76 billion.
Imports from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries stood at $ 5.44 billion, or 16.8% of the total.
Indonesia was the top source of agricultural products with E 1.65 billion or 30.3% of the total from ASEAN, followed by Vietnam ($ 1.4 billion) and Malaysia ($ 973.7 million).
Animal or vegetable fats and oils and other related products were the top agricultural imports from ASEAN.
The Philippines imported পণ্য 1.62 billion worth of agricultural products from the European Union (EU), while imports from Spain reached $ 333.49 million.
Meanwhile, in 2021, agricultural exports accounted for 9.1% of the country’s total exports.
According to the product group, exports of edible fruits and nuts and citrus fruits and watermelon peels were valued at $ 1.93 billion, or 28.5% of the total.
Philippine agricultural exports to ASEAN stood at $ 767.01 million, with Malaysia at $ 247.95 million as the top destination for agricultural products.
Alternatives to tobacco and manufactured tobacco were the top agricultural exports to ASEAN countries, valued at $ 253.85 million.
Philippine agricultural exports to EU countries reached 3 1.39 billion in 2021, compared to half of the Netherlands or $ 698.11 million.
Analysts have blamed higher imports of agricultural products for the slow reopening of the economy in the last quarter as epidemic restrictions eased.
“The country’s widening agri-external trade deficit in 2021 could be largely responsible for the reopening of the economy which has fundamentally increased agricultural imports, as well as increased global agricultural prices amid the prospect of improved economic recovery. From 2020 to 2021, the epidemic disrupted the global supply chain, which reduced production activity as demand increased, ”said Michael L. Rekafort, chief economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation.
One typhoon after another has disrupted domestic agricultural production, especially fruit exports, said Roy S. Kempis, a professor at Pampanga State Agricultural University.
“The reason for this poor performance in the largest part of our agricultural exports may be the loss of fruit production due to the weather disaster in 2021 … Fruits are affected from flowering to fruiting, and many of these follow a period. Six to nine months. Therefore, weather disturbances can occur from flowering to fruiting. It was punctuated by Typhoon Audet (international name: Rai), “Mr. Kempis said in a Viber message.
Mr Ricafort said the trade deficit could widen further this year due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, which has destabilized global commodity prices.
“Also, in an effort to increase local food supply, and especially to ease inflationary pressures on food prices, non-financial measures in the face of increased imports of pork or meat, fish and other food products through lower tariffs. (Consumer Price Index) The country’s agribusiness has partially widened the trade deficit in recent months and may be further expanded by these non-financial measures in the coming months as higher global commodity prices could still boost the country’s agricultural imports, “Mr Rickfort added.