By Louella Desiderio, January 4, 2021; The Philippine Star

Manila, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has trimmed the export goal set in the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) to $103.9 billion for 2022 from the original $130 billion to take into account the impact of the pandemic.

“Given that the COVID-19 disrupted several business models, it will be difficult to achieve our pre-pandemic targets. Hence, we had to adjust our projections based also on the various inputs from industry stakeholders,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

He said the new projection was higher than the $86 billion set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee.

With the adjustment, the DTI now expects total exports covering goods and services for last year to have declined by 14.7 percent to $80.5 billion.

For this year, DTI expects total exports to grow by 12.4 percent to $90.5 billion, and to rise further by 14.8 percent to reach $103.9 billion in 2022.

Last month, the DTI said it is undertaking a review of the PEDP targets given the pandemic.

Earlier, Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said there is a need to review the targets under the PEDP.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a threat, Ortiz-Luis said the country’s total exports may just reach $100 billion by 2022.

Lopez said export products hit the most by the pandemic due to weak global demand and lower production as a result of the imposition of COVID-related restrictions are travel goods, garments and wood-based products.

Exports seen by the DTI posting positive growth rates in 2020, meanwhile, are vehicle auto parts (15.4 percent), other minerals which are mostly copper and nickel ore (29.9 percent), other fruits and vegetables (8.6 percent) and basketwork (28.3 percent).

Earlier, Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. president Dan Lachica said the group expects the country’s outbound shipments of electronic products to bounce back and grow by seven percent this year from an expected five percent drop last year.

The DTI said it expects service export growth to be driven by the information technology – business process management (IT-BPM) sector, health information management, content development, the creatives industry, and the recovery in travel-related goods and services sectors as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available in the next two years.

Lopez said the DTI would focus on growing those considered as winning export industries such as high value electronics, automotive and e-vehicles parts, processed food, minerals, other minerals, IT-BPM, and creatives.

The DTI – Export Marketing Bureau will also meet with stakeholders to refine sectoral targets and strategies to achieve growth.