The Philippines was among the most infected countries in East Asia at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. This study analyzes how international trade of the Philippines was affected by its own lockdown policies and those of trading partners on various margins. Using a monthly series of product-by-country data for the period from January 2019 to December 2020 and an event-study design, we show that domestic lockdown measures only affected imports while external lockdowns affected both exports and imports. The introduction of lockdown measures by trading partners led to a 7% and 57% monthly average drop in export and import values respectively. This was largely influenced by the fall in trade at the extensive margin (number of products). Intermediate goods were the key driver of the drop in imports following foreign lockdowns, reflecting supply disruptions in global value chains (GVCs). On the other hand, exports to top export destinations and exports of intermediate goods were more resilient.
Overall, the lockdowns had a near symmetric effect on the Philippines' international trade, with a slightly higher effect on imports than exports. GVCs through extensive supply chain networks with diversified and geographically dispersed suppliers can help countries adjust better and contribute to speedy recovery and possible resilience to future shocks.