Philippine merchandise imports in November dropped 10.8 percent from $5.59 billion last year to $4.99 billion mainly due to lower capital equipment import and cheaper oil price.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the value of capital goods slackened to $789.41 million, 59 percent drop from $1.924 billion.
Imports of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials went down by 23.1 percent to $939.41 million in November from $1.222 billion a year ago.
Shipment of transport equipment decreased by 65.2 percent (an equivalent of $652.36 million) in the same month of previous year’s level,” the PSA stated.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the big drop in transport import reflects “the trough period of the massive re-fleeting program of major airlines, as well as to the reduction in the import value of telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery.”
NEDA Director General Arsenio Balisacan said that the higher value of imported raw materials and intermediate goods and consumer goods partially mitigated the overall decline in imports during the month.
Total payments for imported raw materials and intermediate goods increased by 49.4 percent to $2.474 billion in November from $1.655 billion in 2013.
Electronic products remained the country’s top imported commodity in November, with 28.2 percent share to total import bill. Its value increased by 21.8 percent to $1.408 billion over year’s figure of $1.156 billion.
For the 11 months to November, cumulative imports still grew 2.8 percent with receipts amounting to $58.549 billion from $56.965 billion in the same period a year earlier. Balisacan said the country must take advantage of dropping petroleum prices to counter the effects of fragile global economy.
He noted that the global economic environment remains fragile at present, with many developed economies confronted with various economic uncertainties; from deflation, precarious fiscal positions, slowing consumer demand, among others.
“The continuing low prices of oil bode well for the country’s consumer activity, given the relief from hikes in fares, utility costs, and other consumer items. Industrial activity also benefits from the reduction in operating costs,” he said.
The NEDA chief said prevailing low oil price environment, which is expected to persist until 2015, may further increase the country’s total oil importation for the remaining part of 2014 and for the whole of 2015 given the country’s high dependence on imported oil.
He also sees imports of consumer goods to remain positive for the remaining month of the year, mainly supported by the uptick in domestic consumption primarily of food.
“This is also an opportune time to implement programs to encourage backward linkages among domestic industries. Programs that improve productivity through the use of technology and that facilitate access to credit, such as those of the Departments of Trade and Industry and Science and Technology,” he said.