MANILA – Philippine imports surged by 11.2 percent in February 2015 as higher payments were recorded in raw materials, intermediate, capital and consumer goods, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

According to a report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), imports rose to US$5.3 billion in February 2015 from US$4.8 billion in the same month last year— a significant rebound from the previous month’s contraction of 12.4 percent.

The increase, primarily from capital goods at 21.5 percent, followed by raw materials and intermediate goods (16.7 percent) and consumer goods (12.2 percent) pulled merchandise imports up despite the drop in mineral fuels and lubricants.

“This good performance suggests robust economic activity in construction and manufacturing and is likely reflective of upbeat domestic demand particularly in private consumption and investments. We expect this to remain favorable over the near term,” said NEDA Officer-in-Charge (OIC) and Deputy Director-General Rolando G. Tungpalan.

“If a similar trend in importation for the succeeding month continues, it will secure government’s expectation of a strong GDP growth for the year,” he added.

Conversely, the 18.7 percent contraction from mineral fuels and lubricants in February 2015 marks its fourth consecutive drop. From US$819.6 million in February 2014, its outturns went down to US$666.7 million in the same period this year.

Tungpalan said that this current oil price trend should be seen as favorable and a good opportunity for businesses to expand investments.

“The persistent low oil price will further boost importation of petroleum crude and other mineral fuels for the succeeding period, which bodes well for the industry sector,” he said.

Also, the Philippines appears to have bucked the downward trend of the merchandise imports of most Asian economies which, according to Tungpalan, can be attributed to a strong consumer base and improved employment opportunities.

Meanwhile, the People’s Republic of China remains to be the country’s top (16.3%) source of imported goods. It was followed by United States of America (10.7 %), Taiwan (8.4%), Singapore (8.2%), Japan (7.6%), Germany (6.7%), Thailand (6.4%), South Korea (6.3%), Malaysia (4.6%) and Indonesia (4.2%).

Tungpalan is OIC of NEDA while Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan is on official travel in Malaysia from April 26-28, 2015.