Imports rise for 4th straight month in September
Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star) - November 25, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Imports remained buoyant in September, growing a fourth straight month on double-digit gains in raw materials and consumer goods, the Philippine Statistics Authority said in a report.

The PSA said total payments for imports increased 6.7 percent to $6.2 billion last September from $5.8 billion in the same month last year.

In the nine-month period this year, merchandise imports rose 2.3 percent to $49.9 billion from $48.8 billion a year earlier.

“Upbeat sentiment from the business sector and an overall improvement in consumer expectations for the coming quarter will likely keep imports afloat, especially those in the manufacturing and construction sectors. Improved purchasing power due to low inflation will also keep consumer demand vibrant in the succeeding months, and will further be ramped-up by holiday spending,” said Economic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general Arsenio M. Balisacan.

He said the 40.7 percent growth registered in capital goods for September is the highest for the year, an indication of robust economic activity moving forward.

Capital goods increased to $2 billion from $1.4 billion in the comparable period last year. Raw materials and intermediate goods also increased 20.1 percent in September 2015 to reach $2.7 billion compared to $2.2 billion recorded in the same month last year.

Raw materials and intermediate goods serve as inputs in the production of final goods, while capital goods include equipment and materials in which firms invest to expand production and make production more efficient.

Also, import bills for consumer goods grew 10.1 percent to $876.8 million in September from $796.4 million in 2014, mainly on higher purchases of durable goods particularly of passenger cars and motorized cycle.

However, payments for non-durable goods, primarily rice, registered a decrease during the period because of lower rice volume purchased on a year-on-year basis.

“The drop in rice imports may only be temporary as the government allowed for additional rice imports in the fourth quarter of the year given the prevailing El Nino, which is still affecting domestic rice production,” said Balisacan.

Among the monitored trade-oriented economies in East and Southeast Asia, only the Philippines and Vietnam recorded positive imports in September this year.

“On the back of sluggish global growth, economic policies should continue to encourage investments that cater to domestic demand.  Continuous improvements in product quality, innovation and infrastructure support to local industries should be sustained in order to elevate the competitiveness of the domestic industries, and make them at par with imported products,” Balisacan said.

ARSENIO M BALISACAN BILLION EAST AND SOUTHEAST ASIA ECONOMIC PLANNING SECRETARY AND NATIONAL ECONOMIC AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY EL NINO GOODS IMPORTS PHILIPPINE STATISTICS AUTHORITY PHILIPPINES AND VIETNAM YEAR
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