MANILA – Merchandise imports grew by 21.8 percent in January 2014 recovering after a slow performance in full-year 2013, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). 

“The three-month moving average growth in January 2014 suggests that imports could be trending upwards in line with the expected recovery in exports,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

Payments for imported goods during the period reached US$5.8 billion, up by 21.8 percent from US$4.7 billion in January 2013. Total trade-in-goods deficit widened to US$1.4 billion in January 2014 from US$716.3 million in January 2013.

“Raw materials and intermediate goods and mineral fuels and lubricants largely contributed to the robust import growth during the month,” the NEDA Director-General said.

Import of raw materials and intermediate goods reached US$2.2 billion in January 2014, up by 27.3 percent from US$1.8 billion in January 2013. This was due to increased payments of semi-processed goods that grew by 37.5 percent during the period.

“This positive performance may be reflective of the optimistic outlook of businesses on their own operations as their next quarter outlook index (2nd Quarter of 2014) is higher,” said Balisacan. 

This outlook, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ Business Expectation Survey for the first quarter of 2014, was based on new construction projects, both public and private, boosted by rehabilitation efforts from Typhoon Yolanda. Also contributing to the outlook are the brisk business prospects arising from companies’ competitive marketing strategies.   

Meanwhile, imports of consumer goods also expanded in January 2014, growing by 23.2 percent to US$766.9 million from US$622.4 million in January 2013. Also, capital goods grew by 7.9 percent to US$1.5 billion in January 2014 from US$1.4 billion a year ago.

In terms of imports source, the People’s Republic of China was on top with a 14.7 percent share, equivalent to US$844 million. Second was the United States of America with a 10.6 percent share, followed by South Korea (8.7%), Taiwan (7.5%), France (6.3%), Japan (6.2%), Saudi Arabia (6.2%), Singapore (5.7%), Thailand (5.3%), and Indonesia (4.5%).