Philippine peso hits a new 13-year low amid US-China trade row

13-year low

The Philippine peso has fallen to a new 13-year low as trade tensions between China and the United States continued to intensify.

The currency depreciated to 54.31:$1 today (Tuesday, September 25) now the weakest since the pair closed at 54.425:$1 on November 22, 2005.

The Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to meet today and tomorrow to discuss if conditions warrant a change in monetary policy settings.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas [central bank] is also holding a policy meeting on Thursday. 

As we reported earlier this month, on September 6 the peso closed at 53.80 to the dollar its weakest since it closed at 53.985 on December 7, 2005, another 13-year low.

Meanwhile, high inflation has prompted President Duterte to order government agencies to step up food imports while enlisting police to crack down on price manipulators.

Rising commodity prices has emerged as a major political and economic issue in the country, threatening growth prospects and the president’s support ratings ahead of next year’s midterm elections. 

Damage to crops caused by Typhoon Ompong earlier this month is estimated at about 27 billion pesos. This is also likely push inflation further.

The president, in an executive order signed last Friday but not made public until today, has directed the Department of Trade and Industry, National Food Authority (NFA) and Sugar Regulatory Administration to ease restrictions on food imports and lift non-tariff barriers to make commodities immediately available to consumers. Officials said last week that the move will eliminate middlemen who bloat prices.

The president also ordered that more private traders be allowed to import rice, and also temporarily permitted direct users to import sugar. At present, only select traders could import grains, while direct users of sugar — such food manufacturers — may only import through traders in order to protect local farmers.

In a separate instruction to the NFA, Duterte ordered the immediate release of rice in warehouses and the importation of more fish.

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