Philippine Daily Inquirer

PH TRADE GAP BLOATS 10-MO DOLLAR OUTFLOWS TO $5.5B

- By Daxim L. Lucas @daxINQ

Dollars continued to flow out of the Philippine economy as the final quarter of the year began, albeit at a more measured pace in October, as the country continued to spend more hard currency than it could earn, according to the central bank.

The latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Monday revealed that the total balance of payments deficit of the local economy had ballooned to $5.59 billion during the first 10 months of 2018.

This marks the largest net outflow of dollars from the economy since the $9.2-billion deficit recorded at the end of 2012, although the current balance of payments position may still widen or narrow depending on fund and trade flows for November and December.

The balance of payments position is the sum total of all the country’s trade and financial transactio­ns with the rest of the world. A surplus means the country makes more dollars than it spends and usually results in a stronger peso, while the opposite is true in a deficit, like the current situation.

The latest balance of payments position is already over 260 percent above the $1.5-billion deficit the central bank’s planners were forecastin­g by the end of 2018.

“The higher deficit may be attributed partly to the widening merchandis­e trade deficit (based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s preliminar­y data) for the first three quarters of the year,” the BSP said in a statement.

“This, in turn, was brought about mainly by the sustained rise in imports of rawmateria­ls and intermedia­te goods as well as capital goods to support domestic economic expansion,” it added.

The country’s overall balance of payments position posted a deficit of $458 million in October 2018 alone, higher than the $368 million deficit recorded in the samemonth last year.

Outflows in October 2018 stemmed mainly from payments made by the national government for its foreign exchange obligation­s, the government’s net foreign currency withdrawal­s and foreign exchange operations of the BSP. These were partially offset, however, by the BSP’s income from its investment­s abroad.

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