The latest statistics from the Philippine Statistics Authority covering the first three months of the year continues to confirm the decline of Philippine exports. The downtrend is not, however, unique to the Philippine situation as the trend is also affecting both the strongest economies in the world and the emerging “sunshine” states in high-growth regions such as Asia.

During the first three months of the year, Philippine exports reached US$13.11 billion, an 8.4-percent slide from the $14.3 billion reported during the same period last year, dragged down by the collective decline of the Philippines’ top export markets during the period.

Germany, one of the biggest economies in Europe and the fifth top-export destination of Philippine export goods, suffered the biggest decline of 17.7 percent while Japan, the top destination of Philippine exports, contracted by 3 percent. Shipments to the combined markets of China and Hong Kong SAR went down slightly by 5.6 percent while the third biggest market, the US, decreased by 8.3 percent.

Also, even if Philippine exports continued their downtrend during the past 12 months, the country remains a strong magnet for foreign investments. Foreign direct investments during the past 12 months went up by 51 percent to $936 million, among the bright investment spots in Asia and the Pacific, during the month of February.

Specifically, equity investments totalled $499 million in February 2016 from the $205 million reported by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in February 2015, reflecting a 119.1 percent increase year-on-year.

Several sectors also continue to buoy up the country’s export performance. Sugar and related products went up by 328 percent during the first three months of the year. Wood manufactures also gained 52.3 percent. The so-called “old reliables” comprising the Electronics products category increased by 4.5 percent from the $6.63 billion in January to March 2016, from the $6.34 billion sold during the first quarter of 2015.

DTI Industry Promotion Group Undersecretary Nora Terrado emphasized the need for Philippine exporters to scale up amidst a highly competitive global digital economy through innovations on processes, functionalities and technologies that will help tap new ventures and markets and substantially integrate into the global value chain.

Local companies have shown their resilience in the face of challenges that include adverse weather patterns, slow global growth and weak demands from major world economies. Not only have local companies grown tremendously in terms of technological savvy; they have also become corporate titans, buying out counterparts and operating subsidiaries in such countries as the United Kingdom, the United States and the Middle East.

Among these corporate giants are Monde Nissin Corp. which bought UK company Quorn for P38.93 billion; MNTC which operates in various ports worldwide; Universal Robina Corp. which bought Griffin Food in New Zealand; Emperador Inc. which purchased Fundador Pedro Domecq, Spain’s oldest and largest brandy maker; and Jollibee which operates restaurants in China, the Middle East and the US.