MANILA – Imports grew by 3.0 percent in April 2014 and is expected to expand in the coming months due to favorable business and consumer outlook, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“This expectation is backed by surveys conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which showed that the overall confidence index of businesses rose to 50.7 percent in the second quarter of 2014 from 37.8 percent in the first quarter and is expected to be sustained in the third quarter,” said Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General Arsenio M. Balisacan.

Payments for imported goods in April 2014 reached US$5.3 billion, up by 3.0 percent from US$5.2 billion in the same period last year, though slower than the 10.6-percent expansion in the previous month and the 7.6 percent growth in April 2013. Total trade-in-goods deficit widened to US$2.6 billion in April 2014 from US$1.7 billion in April 2013.

“Imports growth in April 2014 was due to higher payments for imported raw materials and intermediate goods, mineral fuels and lubricants and consumer goods. However, lower importation of capital goods slowed the increase in the value of imports” Balisacan noted.

According to the Cabinet official, an increase in imports of capital goods may be expected in the near-term as a result of the expansion plans of businesses in the industry sector for the next two quarters.

“The re-fleeting program of airline companies in line with increasing their flight routes alongside the anticipated rise in purchases of power generating sets to augment the power supply in the country is expected to boost imports of capital goods,” Balisacan said.

Balisacan added that maintaining the favourable market sentiment, together with an accelerated implementation of reconstruction, will be crucial in inducing private sector investment in capital goods.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that inward shipments of raw materials and intermediate goods reached US$2.1 billion in April 2014, higher by 17.6 percent from US$1.7 billion recorded in the same period a year ago.

“The double-digit growth rate of raw material and intermediate goods imports was mainly due to the increase in inward shipments of semi-processed raw materials, enough to offset the 27.8 percent contraction in unprocessed raw materials inputs. Among semi-processed raw materials, materials and accessories for electrical equipment recorded a 44.6-percent growth, indicating a possibly much better performance of Philippine electronics exports in the coming months,” Balisacan added.

The People’s Republic of China remained the top source of the country’s imports with a 15.7 percent share, amounting to US$833.5 million. Second was Saudi Arabia with a share of 8.4 percent, followed by South Korea (8.3%), Japan (7.6%), United States of America (7.1%), Singapore (6.6%), Germany (5.5%), Indonesia (5.0%), and Malaysia (4.2%).

The value of imported goods from ASEAN-member trading partners represented 21.3 percent of Philippine merchandise imports in April 2014, equivalent to US$1.1 billion worth of imported goods. On the other hand, the European Union (EU) supplied US$681.0 million or about 12.8 percent of the country’s total import requirements during the period.