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PH imports surge to highest growth in 5 years

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine imports recorded their highest monthly increase in 5 years last January, reversing the December 2015 decline on the back of strong demand for capital goods, raw materials and intermediate goods, and consumer goods, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Wednesday, March 23.

Total payments for imported goods increased by 30.8% in January 2016, in stark contrast to December 2015's 25.8% decline, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported.

"This imports growth is the highest level reached since November 2010. Significantly, the value of imported capital goods, a leading indicator for strong economic activity, grew by 80.4% in January 2016. This was the highest monthly year-on-year increase of capital goods since September 1996," said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Emmanuel Esguerra.

Confidence indicator

Imports of capital goods accounted for 37.7% of total merchandise imports for the period, continuing its trend since February 2015, save for a decline last August.

"This capital goods-driven surge in imports in January 2016 is a good indication that investor confidence in the country remains high. The continued increase in capital formation is expected to come from the expansion of public and private construction, along with durable equipment investments," Esguerra explained.

Import payments for raw materials and intermediate goods also increased by 12% to $2.5 billion in January 2016, led by manufactured goods (32.6%), semi-processed raw materials (19.6%), and materials and accessories for the manufacture of electrical equipment (19.6%).

"This bodes well for industrial production. Likewise, the higher purchase of materials and accessories for the manufacture of electrical equipment, which is used as an intermediate good for semiconductors, also has a positive effect on electronics exports," Esguerra added.

Meanwhile, imports of consumer goods increased by 29.3% to $1.0 billion in January 2016 due to higher spending for both durable goods (43.2%) and non-durable goods (15.6%) during the period.  

China, Japan, and the United States continued to be the country's top sources last January.

"With the exception of the Philippines, all other 10 selected Asian economies saw a decrease in imports in January 2016, with South Korea, Singapore, and China experiencing the steepest declines," Esguerra said. – Rappler.com