The country’s imports grew in April from a year ago, reversing the decline seen in the three previous months and fueling hopes local industries would ramp up output over the short term.
Merchandise imports amounted to $5.14 billion in April, up by 7.4 percent from $4.79 billion in the same month last year, the National Statistics Office reported Tuesday.
This brought the total imports for the first four months of the year to $19.5 billion, still down by about 4 percent from $20.3 billion in the same period last year.
The imports data for April resulted in a trade deficit for the month of $1.02 billion. Exports for April were earlier reported at $4.12 billion.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said an encouraging detail in the imports report for April was that capital goods imports grew by nearly 20 percent.
This indicated that some firms, led by those in the transport and power sectors, are poised to boost production in anticipation of growing orders from local and foreign buyers.
“Imports of capital goods increased significantly. This sends a good signal on what economic prospects would be like,” Balisacan told reporters yesterday on the sidelines of a World Bank-organized forum on climate change.
Data from the NSO showed that capital goods, which accounted for 28.5 percent of the total import bill for April, rose year-on-year by 19.7 percent to $1.47 billion.
“Robust investments in the power and transportation sectors drove overseas purchases to a solid recovery in April,” Balisacan said.
However, imports of raw materials and intermediate goods fell by about 9 percent to $1.74 billion.
Mineral fuels and lubricants rose by 21.4 percent to $1.28 billion.
Consumer goods rose by 11.4 percent to $613.17 million, reflecting expectations among firms that demand from domestic households will continue to grow in the coming months amid a generally favorable outlook for the Philippine economy.
Balisacan, who is also director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, said the increase in importation of consumer goods substantiated an earlier report by the central bank on improving consumer confidence in the country.