Imports up 21% in March to $5.5B led by electronics

Published by rudy Date posted on May 26, 2011

Merchandise imports grew by 21.2 percent to $5.523 billion in March from $4.556 billion in the same period last year, National Statistics Office (NSO) data released yesterday showed.

The NSO said March imports were lower than the 21.9 percent growth in February and 39.3 percent in March last year. In August, imports rose to 22 percent.

On a month-on-month, imports increased by 16 percent from $4.761 billion recorded in February.

In the first quarter, imports rose 22 percent to $15.586 billion, higher than the government’s projection of between 17 percent and 18 percent this year.

Thus, the country’s balance of trade recorded a deficit of $3.368 billion during the three-month period from $1.441 billion deficit in the same period last year.

In March, the trade deficit amounted to $1.17 billion.

Electronics, which accounted for 37.2 percent of the total import bill went up by 36.4 percent to $2.054 billion over last year’s figure of $ 1.506 billion.

On a monthly basis, electronics imports expanded by 36 percent from $1.51 billion recorded in February.

Imports of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials amounted to $858.18 million over the previous year’s level of $775.53 million.

Purchases of transport equipment were up by 8.9 percent to $258.75 million in March from previous year level of $237.54 million.

Industrial machinery and equipment imports amounted to $243.87 million, an increase of 20.6 percent from last year’s $202.30 million.

Total payment for the country’s top 10 imports for 2011 reached $ 4.173 billion or 75.6 percent of the total import bill.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. said the country will double its efforts in expanding trading links, to make the Philippines less vulnerable to future shocks that may disrupt merchandise trade.

“Expanding the Philippines’ trade relationships by exploiting forward and backward linkages of the current exports to our traditional trading partners may mitigate adverse impacts of similar shocks in the future. This means that the country should be able to diversify its suppliers and exports markets in order to reduce reliance on its current markets,” he said.

He noted that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March disrupted the production chain and caused prices of electronic parts to increase.

The value of rice imports plunged by 99.7 percent as the shipment volume dropped from 569 million gross kilos in March 2010 to only 0.4 million gross kilos in March 2011.

“The National Food Authority has just completed the awarding of rice import rights to private traders in May 2011, while the bulk of shipments by an earlier batch of rice imports rights holders are yet to arrive in time for the lean season in the third quarter,” Paderanga said. –Daily Tribune

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