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Imports drop 26% in December

Carlo S. Lorenciana (The Freeman) - February 24, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Goods imported by the Philippines dropped for the first time in seven months in December last year.

Although imports for the whole year 2015 saw a 2 percent increase to $66.7 billion from $65.4 billion in 2014, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported yesterday.

In December, imports went down 26 percent to $4.1 billion from $5.5 billion in the same month in 2014.

The Philippines had a trade surplus of $603.03 million in December 2015, which means the value of the country's exports exceeded that of its imports.

Nine out of the top 10 major imported commodities registered decreases in December.

Electronic products, which accounted for 31.6 percent of total imports, decreased 30.3 percent in December to $1.3 billion.

Semiconductors, which comprised 22.8 percent of total electronic imports, also fell 39.8 percent to $926.5 million.

Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials fell 14.1 percent to $649.3 million.

In a statement yesterday, Margarita Songco, deputy director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, said: "Despite this decline in December, strong domestic demand will prop up imports growth in the near term, as we expect continued expansion in inward shipments of power-generating machines, office and electronic data processing machines, and telecommunications equipment. Investor confidence in the country is still growing and is seen to increase investments. This will in turn boost demand for imports of capital goods as well as raw materials and intermediate goods."

Songco said that although domestic demand is expected to drive imports growth in the near term, sluggish global growth remains a downside risk.

"A downturn in the country’s major trading partners such as Japan and China might drag down imports, particularly intermediate goods used for electronics exports," she added.

Total payment for the country's top 10 imports for December reached $3.1 billion or 77.1 percent of total import bill.

China remained the country's main source of imports, accounting for 17 percent. Japan came second, followed by the US, Singapore and Korea. — (FREEMAN)

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