MANILA – Philippine merchandise imports posted double-digit growth for the second consecutive month at 16.9 percent in July 2015, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

 Trade data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority today indicate that significant increases in inward shipments from the country’s major trading partners buoyed up merchandise imports to US$6.5 billion in July 2015 from US$5.6 billion in the same month last year.

Also for the second consecutive month, the Philippines ranked first among monitored economies in East and Southeast Asia in registering imports growth in July 2015. Except for Viet Nam, most trade-oriented economies in the region recorded a decline in imports for the said period.

“The steady growth in importation of key imported commodities is expected to further boost the growth of investments and household consumption in the third quarter of 2015. This will offset weak revenues from exports, which remains affected by dampened global demand,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

Meanwhile, increase in outurns for consumer goods (72.8%), raw materials and  intermediate goods (41.1%), and capital goods (32.5%), which all made up for the significant decline in import bills for mineral fuels and lubricants (-76.4%), moderated the growth of imports for July 2015.

“Within the near term, imports growth may likely continue as consumer confidence for the third quarter slightly improved to -11.6 from an index of -16.2 during the second quarter,” added Balisacan, who is also the NEDA Secretary.

The spending for imported consumer goods grew to US$1.4 billion in July 2015 from US$793.9 million in July 2014 due to higher purchases of both durable goods (up 75.7%) and non-durable goods (up 69.5%). Moreover, growth in importation of durable goods is accounted for by the increase of importation of passenger cars and motorized cycle.

The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines and Truck Manufacturers Association jointly reported that a total of 10,221 passenger cars were sold in June 2015. This is 23 percent higher compared to the 8,339 units sold in the comparable period last year.

Payments for raw materials and intermediate goods, which account for 43.8 percent of the country’s total merchandise imports, increased by 41.1 percent to US$2.9 billion in July 2015 from US$2.0 billion in July 2014. This is a bit lower from last month’s growth of 49.2 percent.

Moreover, the value of imported capital goods marked its sixth consecutive month of double-digit growth, rising by 32.5 percent to US$1.9 billion in July 2015 from US$1.5 billion in the same period last year.

“The current trend in the import of capital goods, consumer goods and raw materials shows a robust domestic demand and a rebound in consumer sentiment towards the end of the year. To further support this growth, the government must quickly catch up on the implementation of various pipeline public infrastructure projects,” said Balisacan.

“On the other hand, the continued low price environment of mineral fuels, lubricants, and other petroleum-based products should provide additional incentive for further expansion of economic activity given strong domestic demand,” he said.

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