MANILA, Philippines - After finishing flat in 2016, Philippine electronics exports are seen regaining their strength this year.
Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. (SEIPI) president Dan Lachica told The STAR yesterday the group is maintaining its five to six percent growth forecast for electronics exports for 2017 despite a disappointing finish last year.
“2016 was an off year,” Lachica said, referring to the country’s top export item.
“We expected the industry to grow as much as five percent but ended up flat partly due to misinterpreted remarks of our president on pivot from the US. He simply meant exercising our sovereign option to strengthen trade with other major economies,” he said.
Earlier, SEIPI said Duterte’s pronouncements caused some multinational semiconductor and electronics companies to hold off their expansion plans, while some lost orders abroad.
This year, he said the group is forecasting a five to six percent growth “fueled by the digital economy’s need for electronics products.”
“Other potential growth areas could include automotive, consumer and industrial electronics,” he said.
In 2016, total outbound shipment of electronics dipped slightly 0.1 percent to $28.6 billion from $28.9 billion the previous year.
Despite the slowdown, however, electronics are still the country’s top export, accounting for 50.3 percent of total dollar receipts from exports in December 2016.
“2017 challenges could include global volatility both in the US and Europe, and wait and see perspective of traditional trading partners,” Lachica said.
“Upside could come from continued strength of the Philippine economy and proliferation of advanced products and technologies,” he said.
Lachica said the country’s electronics and semiconductor industry is unlikely to be short-circuited by US President Donald Trump’s “America First” stance, saying it would be too expensive and disruptive to move electronics manufacturing back to the US.
About 10 to 12-percent of Philippine electronics exports go to the US.
SEIPI is composed over 200 semiconductors and electronics manufacturers operating in the country.