MANILA: Philippine imports rose 11.7 percent in March on increased demand for capital goods and consumer goods, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported yesterday.
Imports rose to $6.36 billion during the month, up from $5.69 billion reported in the same period a year ago.
PSA attributed the growth in the import bill to double-digit growth in the value of inbound shipments of iron and steel, industrial machinery and equipment, food and live animals, electronic products, telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery and miscellaneous manufactured articles.
Cumulative imports for the first quarter of the year rose 8.8 percent to $18.60 billion from $17.09 billion in the same period last year.
The value of inbound shipments of electronic products in March rose 30.1 percent to $1.764 billion from $1.356 billion in the same period last year. This accounted for 27.7 percent of the total import bill for the month.
Imports of capital goods rose 24.1 percent to $2.14 billion in March 2016 from $1.72 billion in March 2015. Imports of consumer goods also increased 39.4 percent to $ 1.24 billion from $886.14 million due to higher spending on both durable goods and non-durable goods during the period.
In terms of destination, China remains as the country’s top source of imports, making up 16.3 percent of the total bill in March. Payments were recorded at $1.036 billion, an increase of 45.3 percent from $713.03 million in March 2015.
“The continued strength of merchandise imports and the fact that it is fueled by spending on capital goods bodes well for the economy. This growth also mirrors the positive prospects of the economy that are expected to be sustained for the rest of the year,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Emmanuel F. Esguerra, also the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
He noted that among 11 selected Asian countries, only the Philippines posted positive growth of imports in March 2016. South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan showed the steepest declines.
“Given the general sluggishness of import activities in the region, government support for higher spending on infrastructure is critical not only because it supports domestic demand but more importantly, because it increases the country’s attractiveness to investors,” said Esguerra.
He said the government needs to improve the country’s business climate to attract more investments from both local and foreign investors.
The passage of the Customs Modernization Act, he said, would reduce opportunities for corruption and technical smuggling.
Esguerra said the continued expansion of public and private construction, along with investments in durable equipment are expected to fuel growth in imports in the near term.
Increased employment opportunities along with increased government spending for personnel services and other expenditure, meanwhile, would contribute to the growth of imports of consumer goods.
Inbound shipments of raw materials and intermediate goods as well as mineral fuels and lubricants, meanwhile, declined in March because of lesser demand for wheat, inedible crude materials, and lower import payments for other mineral fuels and lubricants, and petroleum.