March imports up 9.6% on rehab efforts

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The Philippines’ merchandise imports in March rose 9.6 percent year-on-year, reversing the 7.8-percent contraction recorded in the same month last year as importers expected robust demand and higher infrastructure spending amid post-Yolanda rehabilitation efforts in Eastern Visayas.

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Imports payments rose to $5.43 billion from $4.952 billion, according to data released by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Higher imports of six of the 10 major commodities accounted for the turnaround.

These six top commodities are transport equipment; plastics in primary and non-primary forms; mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials; miscellaneous manufactured articles; other food and live animals; and organic and inorganic chemicals.

The NEDA said merchandise imports maintained their upward trend, with the three-month moving average growth at 12 percent this March.

According to PSA data, cumulative imports for the first quarter amounted to $16.168 billion, up from $14.436 billion in the same period of last year.

“The volumes of business activity index and total order book index reached an all-time high of 46.1 and 39.7 index points, respectively. This is mainly due to robust expectations of consumer demand and infrastructure spending, partly boosted by the Typhoon Yolanda rehabilitation efforts during the period,” Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director General Arsenio Balisacan said in a statement on Tuesday.

Total payments for imported raw materials and intermediate goods rose 8.1 percent to $2.1 billion in March 2014 from $1.9 billion a year earlier

“Among semi-processed raw inputs, higher imports of materials and accessories for the manufacture of electrical equipment provided the largest boost to the sub-group’s annual expansion, indicating a buoyant prospect for Philippine electronics exports,” Balisacan said.

Meanwhile, imports of consumer goods amounted to $723.1 million in March this year, up 18 percent from $612.7 million in the same period last year. The favorable performance of both non-durable and durable goods supported the overall gain in the value of imported consumer items, the NEDA chief added.

“In particular, higher payments for passenger cars and motorcycles and miscellaneous manufactures buoyed the total value of the consumer durable segment. During the period, there was also a notable increase in domestic car sales,” the official said.

China remained the top source of the country’s imports with a 15.2-percent share, equivalent to $825.5 million.

Other top sources were South Korea, Singapore, the United States, Japan, Taiwan, France, Thailand, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.

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