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PH 1st semester import bill down by 3.8%

With 6-mo exports of $25.56B, trade deficit widened to $4.06B

By: Michelle V. Remo, August 27th, 2013 11:16 PM

The country’s merchandise imports fell by 4.8 percent in June to $4.86 billion from $5.1 billion in the same month last year, according to the National Statistics Office.

Demand for imported products, mainly raw materials, declined as local manufacturers particularly of electronics products   slowed down production in view of the slump in the global market.

The June imports brought the total for the first semester to $29.62 billion, down by 3.8 percent from $30.79 billion in the same period last year.

The six-month import data brought the country’s trade deficit to $4.06 billion, slightly higher than the $4.03 billion a year ago, as exports hit $25.56 billion during the period.

Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Baliscan, who is also director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, on Tuesday said the government’s economic team would review its trade targets for this year in light of the latest developments.

The government has set its import growth target for this year at 12 percent while exports were expected to grow by 10 percent. However, exports in the first semester fell by 4.4 percent year-on-year, the NSO said earlier.

Observers said the export and import targets might be unrealistic, given the inability of the global economy to recover as fast as desired.

Baliscan, however, said that although the targets were set for review, there remained a chance that imports and exports would recover in the second half. This assumption is anchored on the view that the recovery of the US economy was gaining momentum.

Electronics imports, which accounted for the biggest share of the total in June at 22.6 percent, amounted to $1.1 billion during the month. This represented a nearly 25-percent drop from $1.46 billion in the same month last year.

The electronics imports are composed of raw materials, which are processed by Philippine exporters into intermediate goods for shipment overseas. The country’s intermediate electronics exports are used by foreign buyers in making consumer electronics, including cellular phones and computers.

China, Japan and the United States were the top three biggest sources of imports in June.

Imports from China during the month reached $685.16 million, up year-on-year by nearly 26 percent. Imports from Japan amounted to $453.73 million, down year-on-year by about 26 percent. Shipments from the United States stood at $444.774 million, down by 45 percent from a year ago.

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