The Philippines may be a small country, but it’s definitely one of the most blessed. We have a great tropical weather and fertile soil to grow some of the most sought-after produce such as mangoes, bananas and coconut. Our seas are rich in marine resources, which we harvest, process and ship locally and internationally. Add to that a bunch of super skilled and talented Filipino workers. We have the ingredients needed to produce some of the world’s best exports!
Now it may come as a surprise to some of us that Philippine exports are not only dried mangoes or seashell jewelries. Here we name at least 10 of the Philippines top exports, which showcase the abundance we’ve been sharing to the rest of the world through international trade.
Image Source: DTI and BOI Website
- Copper: $860.2 million (1.5%)
The mining sector in the Philippines is often marred with controversy, but we have to admit how much it has contributed to the country’s economy. Overall, we exported $860.2 million worth of copper in 2015 – a huge amount still despite copper exports decline by 36.8% the past year compared with that of 2014.
- Knit or crochet clothing: $872.4 million (1.5%)
We are some of the largest producers of apparel and clothing, which we market local and internationally. It’s amazing how much knitted or “gantsilyo” clothing has earned our country in terms of exports. Most Nanays are notorious for making handmade knits, but in the international scene, the Philippines supplied the world with $872.4 million worth of crochet clothing in 2015. It’s definitely a booming industry.
- Animal/vegetable fats and oils: $1.2 billion (2%)
We may not have Indonesia’s vast palm fields, but we do export more than a billion dollars of vegetable oils. The bulk of vegetable fats and oils come from our coconut, soybean and corn farms. We also export shark oil and other animal fats. Animal and vegetable oils partially account for the growth in Philippine exports to the European Union, which increased by 27% in the first half of 2015 alone.
- Vehicles: $1.4 billion (2.4%)
The Philippines doesn’t have its own brand of automobiles, but manufacturing of a number of auto parts happens here, and so vehicle exports reached $1.4 billion in 2015. Overall, the auto parts industry in the country is composed of more than 200 companies, including four Japanese carmakers, and together they manufacture more than 300 various auto parts and components.
- Ships, boats: $1.5 billion (2.6%)
Our shipyards may not be as huge as the ones shown in National Geographic, but what we have our world-class. Aside from that, we have a huge supply of skilled manpower and a very strategic location and geography. Shipbuilding and exports account for $1.5 billion of total exports last year, a testament to the growing shipbuilding industry. Still, this industry has a lot of potential for growth and development.
Ores contain traces of different heavy metals such as copper, iron and gold. Once processed (to remove or separate metals), it products slag, which also contains traces of minerals and metals. These are valuable export products, which were valued at $1.6 billion in 2015.
- Medical, technical equipment: $2.4 billion (4.1%)
Our country produces various medical devices and technical equipment, which we market globally. These medical export products reached $2.4 billion in 2015, the top four in Philippine exports. Ironically, we still struggle as a nation to provide quality medical services to our citizens, and to enjoy the best healthcare, we have to go to private and very expensive facilities. Such a sad reality, really.
- Wood: $2.9 billion (5%)
We are known for our export quality woodcrafts and wooden furniture including those made of locally sourced rattan and mahogany. It’s amazing that the furniture sector in the Philippines is made up largely of small- and medium-size companies, but it’s one of the major employers and exporters in the country. In addition to uniquely designed wood and mixed materials furniture, we also export raw wood products and timber supplies.
- Machines, engines, pumps: $8.2 billion (14%)
Our top two exports are that of machines and engines. Again, thanks to our unlimited supply of skilled manpower, plus manufacturing zones dedicated to the production of these exports, we’ve topped more than $8 billion worth of machines traded worldwide.
- Electronic equipment: US$26 billion (44.3% of total exports)
By far, electronic equipment accounts for nearly half of our total exports, more in value than all of the nine listed here combined. Electronic products continue to be the country’s top exports for many years now. And although this sector struggled slightly from 2011 through 2014, it has since rebounded and remains a substantial source of income.
Our people are skilled and great at what they do – building ships, producing electronic components, weaving baskets, carving wood, etc. All these creativity and hard work pay off, as we see here – we export top quality products worth billions of dollars.
In this day and age, there is no single country that thrives on its own as absolutely self-sufficient. Hence, the Philippines remains active in the world trade scene.
We supply what other countries lack and need. In return, we also import products from them.
It’s a cyclical exchange. It’s good for our economic sustainability, and perhaps survival? Just think of an alternate world without iPhones or Louis Vuittons. Anyway, if it’s any comfort for you, the country’s top imports actually aren’t about designer bags and smartphones, and we definitely can survive without these things.
However, we do know that in terms of economic stability, we can’t survive without China, the world’s second largest economy. The Philippines’ export products to Asia’s giant nation were valued at $6.4 billion or 10.9% of overall exports. We also export $6.2 billion worth of products (10.6% of our total exports) to HongKong, China’s autonomous territory.
Despite the intensifying friction between the Philippines and China, it’s impossible to rule out China’s massive contribution to our economy. Boycotting anything made in China at this point just makes matters worse for us.
This article is based on 2015 export reports found at World’s Top Exports and World’s Richest Countries.