Imports hardly grew in November | Inquirer Business

Imports hardly grew in November

/ 10:58 PM January 24, 2014

The country’s imports grew marginally in November amid a dampened outlook on consumer and investment demand resulting from the latest natural calamity triggered by Super Typhoon “Yolanda.”

Uncertainty over how global demand for electronics, a key Philippine export product, would perform in the months ahead also dragged imports of electronic raw materials during the month.


The National Statistics Office reported Friday that imports in November amounted to $5.24 billion, up by a mere 0.5 percent from the previous year.

This was, however, a reversal of the 8.6-percent year-on-year contraction recorded in October, but not enough to pull the cumulative imports figure higher. Total imports for January to November reached $56.42 billion, down 0.7 percent from a year ago.


The government originally set its full-year imports growth target for 2013 at 12 percent.

Economic officials, however, have acknowledged that the     official projection was no longer attainable, citing economic problems in major foreign markets that dragged global demand last year.

Raw materials and intermediate goods—used as inputs for the production of goods meant for export—accounted for nearly a third of the country’s imports.

The minimal growth in imports in November followed concerns over the economic impact of “Yolanda,” which hit central Philippines during the month.

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) had said that economic growth could slow down in the fourth quarter of 2013 as a result of the calamity. It said, however, that the full-year growth would still be within the official target of 6 to 7 percent.

In the first three quarters of the past year, the Philippines became one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia with an average growth of 7.4 percent.

Meantime, economist Benjamin Diokno said the sluggish imports figure could also be due to under-declaration of the value of imports and smuggling. He said such illegal activities would be curbed only when the Bureau of Customs is able to address corruption among its ranks.


“I believe there is significant under-reporting of the import figures,” Diokno said in a phone interview.

The UP economics professor cited the NSO report showing that while imports of transport equipment grew, oil imports fell during the month. Data from the NSO showed that import of mineral fuel, lubricant, and related materials dropped by 3.5 percent year-on-year to $1.22 billion in November. However, import of transport equipment rose nearly 53 percent to $685.2 million over the same period.

“The report showing a significant increase in import of transport equipment but a drop in oil imports could support allegations that oil smuggling remains rampant,” he said.

Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials were the top imports for November. These were followed by electronics (down 8.7 percent to $1.15 billion), transport equipment, industrial machinery and equipment (down 12.7 percent to $244.81 million) and food and live animals (down 2.7 percent to $154.77 million).

The biggest sources of imports for the month were China (accounting for $671.12 million), United States ($520.45 million), South Korea ($441.31 million), Japan ($416.72 million) and Taiwan ($412.75 million).

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TAGS: Business, imports, NSO, Yolanda
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