July imports rise to 7-month high
MANILA, Philippines - Philippine imports in July climbed 8.7% to $5.5 billion from a year earlier, the National Statistics Office said on Wednesday.
The country's largest imports are inputs used by the semiconductor and electronics industry, also the biggest export sector and a major contributor to the economy. Imports of electronic parts in July climbed 33.1% to $1.63 billion from a year earlier, after contracting 24.8% in June.
"This reflects the broadly upbeat prospects for the country’s export-oriented electronics industry for the remaining months of 2013. Also, this is backed by the consensus expectation of moderate growth in the global sales of semiconductor for the year,” said NEDA officer-in-charge and Deputy Director-General Rolando G. Tungpalan.
Total imports in the seven months to July were down 2.0 percent to $35.1 billion from a year ago.
The country had a trade deficit of $649 million in July, wider from its year-ago gap, bringing the total trade gap in January-July to $4.68 billion.
Exports climbed for a second month in a row in July, joining regional peers showing similarly strong shipments in recent months in another encouraging sign of an uptick in global demand. A sustained recovery in exports bodes well for the Philippine economy, which is targeting growth of as high as 7 percent this year.
The electronics industry group has said it was sticking to its 5 to 6 percent growth outlook for the sector this year, with expectations of a pick-up in global demand for smartphones and tablets.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan earlier said the government may lower this year's exports and imports growth targets of 10 percent and 12 percent, respectively.