Imports surged 13.2 percent in December to $5.25 billion, revving up from the 2.3-percent growth the previous month and reversing the 6.4-percent contraction in December 2011, the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported Tuesday.
NSO documents showed that for the full year, imports grew 1.9 percent to $61.66 billion. This placed total external trade—the combined value of outbound and inbound goods—for 2012 at $113.66 billion, or an increase of 4.5 percent from the previous year’s level.
The trade balance was still in favor of the rest of the world with the Philippines posting a deficit of $9.66 billion, but still better than the $12.19-billion gap recorded in 2011.
Compared to November imports valued at $5.14 billion, shipments in December represented an increase of 2.1 percent.
According to the National Economic and Development Authority, the NSO’s parent agency, growth in payments for capital goods, consumer goods, raw materials and intermediate goods boosted imports in December.
“The improvement in imports performance during the period partly reflects the favorable sentiments of both businesses and consumers,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, who is also director general of Neda.
Balisacan said in a statement that inbound shipments of capital goods rose 40.2 percent in December, which was attributed to increased deliveries of aircraft purchased by Cebu Pacific.
“The higher receipts from imported consumer goods were due in part to the more favorable sentiments of consumers, specifically towards durable items,” Balisacan said.
“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,” he added.
NSO documents showed that electronic products accounted for 24.6 percent of total imports in December, with the value rising 1.7 percent year-on-year to $1.29 billion. Semiconductor devices and parts made up about 18 percent of all electronic shipments, growing in value by 4.7 percent to $938.1 million. Electronic imports in December increased by 2.3 percent from $1.26 billion in November.
December shipments of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials—the country second-biggest purchase—fell 16.1 percent year-on-year to $880.8 million.
The country’s third-largest import for the month, transport equipment, nearly tripled to $698.2 million.
Fourth were industrial machinery and equipment, payments for which increased by 5.3 percent to $264.65 million. In fifth place were metal ores and scrap, which grew by about eight and a half times to $194.69 million.
The United States was the top source of imports for the month, accounting for 16 percent of total cargo or $839.11 million— a year-on-year increase of 62 percent.
China was second with an 11.4-percent share valued at $598.24 million, or an increase of 2.4 percent.
Japan placed third with 8.7 percent of all inbound cargo in December valued at $455.08 million, or 22.4-percent lower than last year’s bill.