The National Economic and Development Authority on Tuesday reported that imports rose by 7.5 percent last October from $4.84 billion last year to $5.21 billion.
NEDA said imports picked up because of cheaper oil, seasonal increase in consumer spending and the lifting of the truck ban.
October imports also showed a significant rebound from a 1.2-percent contraction in September.
Cumulative imports for the first 10 months of the year also rose 4 percent to $53.42 billion from $51.37 billion in the same period a year earlier.
“The lifting of the truck ban in Manila, starting in mid-September, supported imports growth for the period,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
Balisacan noted double-digit increases in the importation of consumer goods and mineral fuels and lubricants.
Imports of consumer goods amounted to $959.2 million in October, higher by 35.8 percent from $706.1 million in the same period last year.
The NEDA chief said strong consumer goods imports may indicate that domestic consumer demand remains strong in the fourth quarter.
The recovery in semi-processed raw materials and intermediate goods also bodes well for domestic economic activity and exports, he added.
However, the import value of capital goods fell again on an annual basis by 1.6 percent in October 2014 from $1.50 billion last year to $1.48 billion.
Also, imported raw materials and intermediate goods reached $1.87 billion in October 2014, slightly lower by 0.8 percent from $1.89 billion in the same month last year.
Despite this, Balisacan believes that the acceleration of the manufacturing sector could support stronger imports of raw materials and intermediate goods in the coming months, “in time for the surge in domestic demand during the peak of the
holidays towards the yearend.”
Another positive development which is possibly boosted by the downward trend in the international prices of oil, is the 18.7 percent growth of imported mineral fuels and lubricants with value amounted to $852.8 million in October from $718.3 million in 2013.
The NEDA chief said the business sector and oil-dependent industries will likely continue to take advantage of the cheap oil prices as this significantly reduces cost of operations.
“The manufacturing, transportation and energy subsectors in particular are likely to benefit. The government should ensure that these benefits are appropriately passed on to consumers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Balisacan also reported that the Philippines recorded the second highest annual increase in imports among selected economies in the East and Southeast Asian region for October.
Vietnam led the region with 12.6 percent imports growth and Malaysia at third with 6.1 percent. Other countries experienced a decline such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Japan and Singapore.