MANILA – Double-digit increases in the importation of consumer goods and mineral fuels and lubricants drove imports growth back to positive territory in October 2014, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that total Philippine imports grew by 7.5 percent to US$5.2 billion in October 2014 from US$4.8 billion in October 2013. This shows a significant rebound from a 1.2-percent contraction in September 2014 and an 8.2-percent decrease in October 2013.

Total imports reversed its trend as the three-month moving average growth rate for the month picked up to 2.4 percent from four consecutive months of contractions since June 2014.

“The seasonal uptick in consumer spending during the last quarter of the year, coupled with cheap oil prices and lifting of the truck ban in Manila, starting in mid-September, supported imports growth for the period,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

The Philippine imports of consumer goods amounted to US$959.2 million in October 2014, higher by 35.8 percent from US$706.1 million in the same period last year.

 “Strong consumer goods imports may indicate that domestic consumer demand remains strong in the fourth quarter. The recovery in semi-processed raw materials and intermediate goods also bodes well for domestic economic activity and exports,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.

 “The Philippines also recorded the second highest annual increase in imports among selected economies in the East and Southeast Asian region for October 2014,” the Cabinet official said.

Viet Nam led the region with 12.6 percent imports growth and Malaysia at third with 6.1 percent. Other countries experienced a decline such as Hong Kong (-1.2%), Taiwan (-1.4%), Indonesia (-2.2%), Republic of Korea (-3.0%), Thailand (-4.9%), Japan (-6.7%), and Singapore (-7.5%).

However, the import value of capital goods fell again on an annual basis by 1.6 percent in October 2014 from US$1.50 billion last year to US$1.48 billion. Also, imported raw materials and intermediate goods reached US$1.87 billion in October 2014, slightly lower by 0.8 percent from US$1.89 billion in the same month last year.

“In the near-term, the acceleration of the manufacturing sector could support stronger imports of raw materials and intermediate goods in the coming months, in time for the surge in domestic demand during the peak of the holidays towards the yearend,”

On the other hand, the value of imported mineral fuels and lubricants posted a double-digit growth of 18.7 percent to reach US$852.8 million in October 2014 from US$718.3 million in October 2013, possibly boosted by the downward trend in the international prices of oil.

“The business sector and oil-dependent industries will likely continue to take advantage of the cheap oil prices as this significantly reduces cost of operations. The manufacturing, transportation and energy subsectors in particular are likely to benefit. The government should ensure that these benefits are appropriately passed on to consumers,” he said.

The People’s Republic of China continued to be the main supplier of the country’s import requirements in October 2014 with a 16.4-percent share, followed by Japan (8.6%), Taiwan (7.9%), and the United States of America (7.8%).