Imports down 8.6% in Oct.

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STATE-RUN National Statistics Office  (NSO) said on Friday that the country’s merchandise imports in October plunged as receipts for six of the major commodity groups declined.

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“The country’s total imported goods for this month decreased by 8.6 percent from $5.277 billion in October 2012 to $4.824 billion for the same period this year.

Similarly, on a monthly basis, it decreased by 15.5 percent compared to previous month’s level of $5.711 billion,” the NSO said, according to their October External Trade Performance data.

Based on the data, import receipts for the first 10 months of the year also incurred a slight decline by 0.8 percent from $51.62 billion last year to $51.18 billion this year.

For his part, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that the slowdown of merchandise imports was because of anticipated “sluggish business activity after the holiday season.”

“This outturn may be related to the rapid growth of imports [over 7 percent in the previous three months. It may also be reflective of the less optimistic outlook of businesses on their own operations as they anticipate a lower volume of business activity in the first quarter of 2014,” Balisacan said, who is also director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The NEDA director general said that though imports and trade were a bit slanted to negativity, the business confidence level of the Philippines next year “remains buoyant,” based on the fourth quarter Business Expectations Survey (BES) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The rise from 42.8 percent in third quarter to 52.3 percent in fourth quarter BES indicated the optimism of business sector in the country, Balisacan noted.

“Notwithstanding the overall decline in imports in October 2013, total inward shipments from our top trading partners were mostly goods that are essential for growth,” Balisacan said.

The NEDA said that the decline in imports for October was because of decreased overseas purchases of the country of mineral fuels and lubricants and raw materials and intermediate goods.

Commodity groups
The commodity groups that influenced the dive of imports include cereals and cereal preparation; mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials; industrial machinery and equipment; organic and inorganic chemicals; electronic products; and plastics in primary and nonprimary forms. In terms of product types, raw materials and intermediate goods accounted 38.8 percent of the country’s imports, amounting to $1.9 billion.

Following raw materials and intermediate goods were capital goods having 31.1-percent share of imports to $1.5 billion, as well as mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials with 14.8-percent share to $715.2 million.  For sectoral imported commodity groups, electronic and semiconductors products still topped the country’s imports with a combined 43.5-percent share amounting to $2.2 billion—25.9-percent share to $1.2 billion for electronics and 19.4 percent to $934.1 million for semiconductors.

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