Imports surge to record $6.5b

Imports jumped 17 percent in July from a year ago to a record $6.5 billion, on the back of a 71-percent increase in electronic components, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Wednesday.

Data from the PSA showed merchandise imports increased rom $5.6 billion in July 2014, following the 22.6-percent rise in June shipments to $5.9 billion, despite the sharp drop in the value of petroleum imports.

This brought total imports in the first seven months to $32.2 billion, up 0.1 percent from $37.17 billion a year ago.

“The steady growth in importation of key imported commodities is expected to further boost the growth of investments and household consumption in the third quarter of 2015. This will offset weak revenues from exports, which remains affected by dampened global demand,” said Economic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority director-general Arsenio Balisacan.

Neda said for the second consecutive month, the Philippines ranked first among monitored economies in East and Southeast Asia in registering imports growth in July 2015. Except for Vietnam, most trade-oriented economies in the region recorded a decline in imports in the period.

Data showed that with the strong imports growth, the Philippines registered a trade deficit of $1.177 billion in July, up from the $138.95-million deficit registered in the same period last year. The trade deficit in the first seven months also doubled to $3 billion from $1.5 billion a year earlier.

Orders for consumer goods jumped 72.8 percent in July; raw materials and  intermediate goods, 41.1 percent; and capital goods, 32.5 percent.  Electronic products, accounting for 30.8  percent of the total import billion, soared 71 percent to $2 billion.

The strong growth of these import categories made up for the 76.4-percent decline in import bills for mineral fuels and lubricants.

“Within the near term, imports growth may likely continue as consumer confidence for the third quarter slightly improved to -11.6 from an index of -16.2 during the second quarter,” said Balisacan.

Spending for imported consumer goods reached $1.4 billion in July, up from $793.9 million a year ago, on higher purchases of both durable goods (up 75.7 percent) and non-durable goods (up 69.5 percent).

Payments for raw materials and intermediate goods, which accounted for 43.8 percent of the country’s total merchandise imports, increased 41.1 percent in July to $2.9 billion from $2 billion in July 2014.

The value of imported capital goods marked its sixth consecutive month of double-digit growth, rising by 32.5 percent to $1.9 billion in July 2015 from $1.5 billion in the same period last year.

“The current trend in the import of capital goods, consumer goods and raw materials shows a robust domestic demand and a rebound in consumer sentiment towards the end of the year. To further support this growth, the government must quickly catch up on the implementation of various pipeline public infrastructure projects,” said Balisacan.

“On the other hand, the continued low price environment of mineral fuels, lubricants, and other petroleum-based products should provide additional incentive for further expansion of economic activity given strong domestic demand,” he said.

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