Growth in payments for capital goods, consumer goods, raw materials, and intermediate goods propelled Philippine merchandise imports to a 13.2-percent year-on-year increase in December 2012, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
“The improvement in imports performance during the period represents a rebound in the value of imports from a 6.4 percent contraction a year ago and partly reflects the favorable sentiments of both businesses and consumers,” said Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning Arsenio M. Balisacan.
The country’s merchandise imports amounted to $4.6 billion in December 2012, up from the $4.6 billion during the same month in 2011.
Imported capital goods rose by 40.2 percent to $1.8 billion from $1.3 billion from a year ago due to higher payments for aircrafts, ships, and boats (564.7%), telecommunications equipment and electrical machineries (10.0%), and power generating and specialized machines (15.9%).
The increase in imports of aircrafts, ships, and boats is partly attributed to aircraft purchases of Cebu Pacific.
Also, consumer goods grew by 38.2 percent to $688.3 million in December 2012 from $497.9 million from the same month in 2011. This was due to higher payments for both durable (50.4%) and non-durable (28.1%) consumer products.
“The higher receipts from imported consumer goods were due in part to the more favorable sentiments of consumers, specifically towards durable items,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.
Imports of raw materials and intermediate goods, meanwhile, also increased by 6.1 percent as values of both imported unprocessed raw materials (40.4%) and semi-processed raw materials (0.9%) registered annual gains.
“Higher importation of raw materials and intermediate goods was partly due to heightened optimism among importers that demand for goods would increase in the near-term because of additional projects, business expansion, and continued investor confidence,” Balisacan said.
For full-year 2012, merchandise imports grew marginally by 1.9 percent to $61.7 billion from $60.5 billion in 2011. Nevertheless, the trade-in-goods deficit narrowed to $ 9.7 billion in 2012 from $12.2 billion in 2011.
“This was due to a relatively stronger performance of merchandise exports,” the Cabinet official said.
Philippine imports growth was the highest among the country’s trade-oriented neighbors in East and Southeast Asia. These other economies that recorded positive imports growth in December 2012 include Hong Kong (12.3%), People’s Republic of China (6.0%), Viet Nam (5.4%), Thailand (4.7%), Singapore (4.5%), and Taiwan (1.6%).
Meanwhile, the United States of America (USA) was the main supplier of imported goods for the Philippines as they recorded a 16.0-percent share ($839.1 million) in the total value of inward shipments in December 2012. Following the USA in terms of import share was the People’s Republic of China (11.4%), Japan (8.7%), Taiwan (7.6%), and the Republic of Korea (7.3%).