MANILA — The higher import value of capital goods bolstered the country’s import performance in November 2013, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

This statement came after the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported that merchandise imports rose by 0.5 percent to $5.24 billion in November 2013, from $5.21 billion in the same period a year ago.

“The value of imported capital goods has sustained its buoyant growth performance since August 2013,” Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General Arsenio M. Balisacan said.

He added that capital goods grew at a faster pace of 12.1 percent in November 2013 compared to the 4.8-percent annualized growth that was recorded in the previous month.

“We should remain optimistic that this trend will continue, given that the fourth quarter Business Expectations Survey of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas indicates an uptick in confidence index to 52.3 percent from 42.8 percent in the third quarter of 2013,” Balisacan said.

He stressed that given the relatively stronger performance of merchandise exports, the trade-in-goods deficit narrowed to $7.0 billion in January to November 2013 from $8.7 billion a year ago.

Balisacan, however, explained that in total, the volume of capital goods shipped to the country fell by 13.2 percent. “This may be partly on account of logistical problems related to an extreme weather event such as Typhoon Yolanda,” he said.

He cited that capital goods include power generating and specialized machines, office and EDP machines, telecommunications and electrical machinery , land transportation equipment, aircraft ships and boats, and, photographic equipment and optical goods.

Meanwhile, lower payments for imported raw materials and intermediate goods, mineral fuels and lubricants, and consumer goods dragged down overall imports growth.

“This is due to the less optimistic outlook of businesses on their own operations in anticipation of a seasonal decline in the volume of business activity in the first quarter of 2014. Processing delays due to logistical problems in major ports caused by weather disturbance, particularly Typhoon Yolanda, may also have had an effect,” Balisacan said.

China remains as the top source of inward shipments in November with a 12.8-percent share, followed by the USA and South Korea with 9.9 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively.

Major trade-oriented economies in the East and Southeast Asian region showed mixed import growth performances in November 2013.

Hong Kong, Vietnam, China, and Malaysia posted import gains in November, while Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore’s import showing declined during the period.