The value of imported goods that entered the country in February reached $5.326 billion—up 11.2 percent from the $4.788-billion reported in the same month last year.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the growth in imports last February was the fastest in 13 months, even though the value of shipments in the first two months of 2015 slightly declined year-on-year.
If the imports were to continue to grow by a double-digit rate in the coming months, the economy would likely hit this year’s projected growth target of 7-8 percent, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said.
The PSA said in a preliminary report Tuesday that the growth rate last February was the highest since January 2014 when imports rose by 24.7 percent year-on-year.
February’s growth also reversed the 12.4-percent year-on-year decline seen last January.
The PSA said seven major commodities led the robust rise in imports last February: Cereals, electronics, food and live animals, industrial equipment and machinery, iron and steel, manufactured articles, and plastics.
However, the total import shipments in the first two months of 2015 went down by 1.8 percent to $10.545 billion, from the $10.743 billion registered in the same period of 2014.
As the value of imports outpaced that of exports last February, the balance of trade in goods that month stood at a deficit of $812.77 million. Exports in February slid by 3.1 percent year-on-year to $4.513 billion.
The Neda attributed the higher February exports to the rise in imported capital goods (up 21.5 percent), raw materials and intermediate goods (up 16.7 percent), and consumer goods (up 12.2 percent), even as the value of imported mineral fuels and lubricants declined for the fourth straight month.
“This … suggests robust economic activity in construction and manufacturing, and is likely reflective of upbeat domestic demand particularly in private consumption and investments. We expect this to remain favorable over the near term,” said Rolando G. Tungpalan, Neda deputy director general and officer-in-charge.
“If a similar trend in importation for the succeeding month continues, it will secure the government’s expectation of a strong GDP [gross domestic product] growth for the year.”
Despite the 18.7-percent drop in mineral fuel and lubricant imports last February, “this current oil price trend should be seen as favorable and a good opportunity for businesses to expand investments,” Tungpalan said in a statement.
“The persistent low oil price will further boost importation of petroleum crude and other mineral fuels for the succeeding period, which bodes well for the industry sector.”
According to Tungpalan, the Philippines “appears to have bucked the downward trend of the merchandise imports of most Asian economies, which can be attributed to a strong consumer base and improved employment opportunities.”
The country’s top 10 sources of imported products were China, the United States, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Germany, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer