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China gets bigger share of Philippine exports, tourist arrivals

Source:   Time:

MANILA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Among the main trading partners of the Philippines, China posted the fastest growth in importing Philippine merchandise in November last year, although it remained as the country's third largest export market, after Japan and the United States.

Data released Friday by the Philippine National Statistics Office (NSO) showed that the country's exports to China in November last year rose by 38.2 percent from a year earlier with total exports valued at 516 million U.S. dollars.

Philippine exports to Japan, the top export market for Philippine goods, grew by 37.1 percent year on year. Exports to Japan, which implemented various stimulus measures to accelerate a sluggish economy, were valued at 1 billion dollars.

The United States, which has resorted to pump-priming efforts by the U.S. Federal Reserve, came in second with 589 million dollars of export receipts for the month.

Philippine exports to the world's biggest economy grew by only 22.7 percent year on year last November, way below the 38.2 percent growth of exports to China. China is now the world's second biggest economy.

According to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Philippine exports grew at a faster pace in November because of a spike in demand from key export markets like Japan, the United States and China.

Electronics remained the country's top export earner, accounting for 1.91 billion dollars, or nearly 45 percent of the Philippines' total export revenues for November. The amount was up by 10 percent year on year.

In a statement, Balisacan said improving global demand augured well for the Philippines' manufacturing sector and the overall domestic economy.

The country's latest monthly export performance brought the total export revenues for the first 11 months of 2013 to 49.38 billion dollars, a year-on-year rise of only 2.6 percent.

The government earlier conceded that the exports growth target for 2013 would be missed because of weak global demand in the first semester of 2013. Nonetheless, the government expects a recovery this year.

Balisacan said that despite the likely shortfall in the 2013 exports target, the Philippines was still the best performer in the region in terms of exports growth. "We are the top export performer among trade-oriented economies in the East and Southeast Asian region," he said.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) also reported that Chinese tourists were the fourth largest group of foreign tourists in the Philippines from January to September last year.

Data from the DOT showed that 327,054 tourists from China visited the Philippines for the nine-month period, growing by 66. 08 percent year on year.

The growth in tourists from China was the fastest among the top markets for tourists to the Philippines.

International tourists who visited the Philippines rose to 3.51 million in January to September of 2013, up 11.4 percent year on year. This represented 63.80 percent of the targeted 5.5 million visitors for 2013. However, tourist arrivals in the Philippines still lag behind other Asian destinations, such as Thailand and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings, a global debt watcher, said that China's aspired transformation to a more consumer-driven market led by its emerging middle class could drive more tourists to Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines.

Fitch Ratings said export-oriented countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, which have benefited from China's investment-driven growth in the past decade, may feel a pinch as the country's growth slows down.

"The future pace of China's economic development is also likely to continue to pose a number of challenges for emerging Asia," Fitch said in a report Friday.Fitch noted that a number of Southeast Asian economies have been large beneficiaries of China's economic transformation, particularly since the early 2000s.

The rating firm expects China to grow by 7 percent this year, slower than the double-digit growth rates it enjoyed in past years.

Beijing has also announced plans to refocus the mainland's economic growth away from its current investment-driven model to a more equitable expansion that emphasizes the welfare of its middle- income group.

Overall, Fitch said it expects the "emerging Asia," which includes China, India, Mongolia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam, to remain one of the fastest-growing regions in the world.

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