Feb imports slump 20.7%

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Jan  imports seasonally high

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Import payments reached $4.72 billion in February, plunging 20.7 percent from January when purchases were seasonally high to boost inventories at the beginning of the year.

Compared with the year earlier, however, imports rose a slight 0.3 percent, reflecting growth in the electronics sector and reconstruction efforts after Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Import payments in the comparative periods stood at $5.96 billion in January this year and  $4.71 billion in February 2014, according to data released by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Nicholas Antonio Mapa, Bank of the Philippine Islands associate economist, said imports slowed month-on-month as traders did not need to import more raw materials for exports after having replenished their stock in January.

“Going forward, we hope that this will not affect the export numbers in the coming months as the export sector gained by 24.4 percent year-on-year in February,” Mapa said.

The NEDA, on the other hand, focuses on the year-on-year imports performance, saying it reflects the optimistic outlook of businesses as evidenced by new construction projects, both public and private, and boosted by the Super Typhoon  Yolanda rehabilitation efforts.

Imports of raw materials and intermediate goods reached $2.2 billion in February 2014 and accounted for about 46 percent of total merchandise imports in the month, it said.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the increase in this segment paralleled the optimistic prospects on the continued recovery of the country’s electronic exports, following the consecutive growths recorded in their export sales since September 2013.

“The imports performance of raw material and intermediate goods was mainly due to the increased inward shipments for both semi-processed and unprocessed raw materials,” he said.

Raw materials and intermediate goods are used as inputs in the production of other commodities that will be sold domestically and internationally, the agency said.

“The increase in total imports was due to the positive performance of eight out of the top ten major commodities for the month,” the PSA said.

These commodities were transport equipment; iron and steel; feeding stuff for animals (not including unmilled cereals); plastics in primary and non-primary forms; other food & live animals; cereals and cereal preparations; telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery; and electronic products, it said.

The value of imported consumer goods reached $632.2 million in February 2014 from $591.8 million in February 2013.

China remained the top source of the country’s imports with a 12.1-percent share, equivalent to $571 million.

Other top sources of the country’s imports were the United States, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Germany, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

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