MANILA, Philippines — The gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions over the past year has brought nationwide merchandise trade back to growth, but not enough to return to stronger pre-pandemic levels.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Monday (May 2) that the quantity of domestic trade – or the movement of products from one province or region to another – increased 24.6% to 20, 22 million tons in 2021, compared to 16.23 million tons in 2020, which had fallen by 37.3% compared to 25.89 million tons in 2019.
In terms of value, domestic trade also recovered, increasing by 21.6% to reach 718.4 billion pesos in 2021, compared to 590.7 billion pesos in 2020. However, the volume of domestic trade in l last year remained below 834.7 billion pesos in 2019, before COVID. -19 pandemic hit.
At least 75% of the economy came to a standstill at the height of the longest and toughest lockdowns imposed at the start of the pandemic two years ago. The movement of non-essential goods had also been restricted across local government unit (LGU) borders, such as provinces, cities and municipalities, and even barangays. It didn’t help that different LGUs sometimes had different pandemic restrictions, leading to business bottlenecks.
But towards the end of last year, the government allowed more economic activity to resume, provided it met minimum health standards, and alongside the rollout of the national mass vaccination programme.
The PSA said that in 2021, 99.9% of the goods moving across the country – both in terms of volume and value – were traded by sea, while the rest was done by air.
In terms of quantity or volume, the most traded commodities in the Philippines last year were manufactured goods, as well as food and live animals, the PSA said.
By value, most trade in the country in 2021 was machinery and transport equipment, food and live animals, and manufactured goods, according to PSA data.
The regions that showed the highest trade volumes were Central Visayas, National Capital Region and Bicol Region.
The NCR plus Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas exceeded the value of traded goods.
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