Imports down 13.7% in April; electronics off 22%By Riza T. Olchondra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Philippine imports dropped 13.7 percent in April—the deepest dive so far this year—to $4.77 billion from $5.52 billion a year ago, the National Statistics Office reported Tuesday. Imports fell 3.2 percent in January, grew 2.5 percent in February, then weakened 3.3 percent in March.
Similarly, NSO said, imports were down 11.2 percent from the previous month’s $5.37 billion. Total imports for the first four months shrank 4.6 percent to $20.27 billion from $21.26 billion in the same period in 2011.
Electronics, which made up about a fourth of imports for the month of April, were down 22.1 percent at $1.32 billion from $1.69 billion in April last year. However, this was up 4.6 percent from $1.26 billion in the previous month. Semiconductors, which make up the bulk of electronics trade, fell 29 percent to $1.02 billion from $1.44 billion a year ago.
Total external trade in goods for April reached $9.4 billion, a decline of 4.3 percent from $9.83 billion in the same month in 2011. This was due to the 13.7-percent decline in imports from $5.52 billion to $4.77 billion in April. Exports increased by only 7.6 percent to $4.64 billion from $4.31 billion in April 2011. The balance of trade for the Philippines in April this year was a deficit of $135 million, sharply lower than the $1.22-billion deficit in the same period last year.
Professor Benjamin Diokno of the UP School of Economics said the April imports numbers were not consistent with an economy on the rise. On the contrary, they suggested slower exports in the near and medium term.
Diokno said imports of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials also fell 24.3 percent in April, suggesting either falling oil prices or slower oil use consistent with a weaker economy. Both, he said, suggested a slowing global economy. On the positive side, imports of transport equipment were up 28.8 percent from January to April, suggesting a strong recovery in the transport equipment sector after a slowdown last year.
Other top imports for April were fuels and related materials ($1.06 billion, down 24.3 percent), industrial machinery and equipment ($256.47 million, up 9.3 percent), transport equipment ($226.08 million, up 22.6 percent), and plastics ($135.55 million, up 1.8 percent), the NSO said.
Rounding up the list of the top 10 imports for April were registered iron and steel ($119.87 million), telecommunications equipment and electrical machinery ($107.74 million), organic and inorganic chemicals ($107.56 million), cereals ($102.34 million) and animal feeds ($79.52 million).
The United States was the top source of imports for the Philippines in April with $567.84 million, but this was 6.8 percent down from $609.43 million a year ago. The other top sources of imports were Japan ($539.85 million, up 22.5 percent), China ($471.08 million, down 8.9 percent), Singapore ($420.06 million, down 8.7 percent), and Taiwan ($400.23 million, down 11.8 percent).
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