(Updates with details of PSA data, NEDA comment)
Philippine merchandise imports rebounded from the January slump with an 11.2 percent increase in February, marking their fastest annual growth pace in more than a year, preliminary government data showed on Tuesday.
Imports in February rose to $5.326 billion from $4.788 billion in the corresponding month of 2014, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported.
The February 2015 increase compares with 1.7 percent annual growth a year earlier and reverses the revised 12.4 percent drop recorded in January this year.
The 11.2 percent rise in February is the highest import growth rate on record for the Philippines since the 24.4 percent surge posted in January 2014.
Cumulative imports for the first two months of the year, however, showed a mild 1.8 percent decline to $10.545 billion from $10.743 billion a year earlier.
Electronic products lead 7 top imports
PSA data showed the increase in total imports for February was driven by strong local demand for seven out of the top 10 commodities for the month, namely miscellaneous manufactured articles; iron and steel; electronic products; cereals and cereal preparations; other food and live animals; industrial machinery and equipment; and plastics in primary and non-primary forms.
Accounting for more than 34 percent of all imports for the month, electronic products were the top commodities shipped in, costing $1.854 billion. Import of the items swelled 42.4 percent over last year’s figure of $1.302 billion.
Robust economic activity
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said in a statement the rise in electronic products’ imports suggests robust economic activity in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
NEDA Officer-in-Charge (OIC) and Deputy Director General Rolando Tungpalan called attention to what such an increase in electronic products’ import could be indicating: that there is upbeat domestic demand for such products, particularly for private consumption and investment.
China was the top source of Philippine imports, accounting for 16.3 percent of the total value of inbound shipment in February, followed by the United States, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Germany, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, and Indonesia.