MANILA—Merchandise imports grew by 6.9 percent in August 2013 from the same period last year, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“For this period, 44.7 percent of the country’s inward shipments from the top ten import sources can be classified as “investment goods” or goods with productive uses,” said NEDA officer-in-charge (OIC) and Deputy Director General Emmanuel F. Esguerra. “This shows buoyant economic activity for the second half of the year the NEDA official added. 

In terms of value, imports increased to US$5.5 billion in August 2013 from US$5.2 billion in the same period in 2012. 

“Spending for imported mineral fuels and lubricants (26.5%), capital goods (11.0%), and consumer goods (2.3%) mainly backed the growth in imports for the period,” Esguerra said. The growth in imported mineral fuels and lubricants was due to higher spending for petroleum crude (54.3%) and other mineral fuels and lubricants (0.4%). 

“Volume expansion of imported petroleum crude (50.9%) and other mineral fuels and lubricants (5.4%) led to high values for these products even as the price of crude in the international market declined,” said Esguerra. 

Meanwhile, the growth of imported capital goods was mainly supported by year-on-year gains in payments for aircraft, ships and boats (778.9%) and power generating and specialized machines (23.2%). 

“This was largely due to the delivery of Philippine Airlines’ brand-new Airbus A321-200 as part of its comprehensive fleet renewal program,” he said. 

Esguerra added that overall, the robust purchases of capital goods during the period may be accounted for by the continuing positive outlook of businesses in the third quarter of 2013 

“This outlook can be seen specifically in the number of firms with intentions to expand operations in the current and the next quarter of the year, which has remained at favorable levels,” he said. Meanwhile, total trade-in-goods deficit narrowed to US$5.6 billion in January to August 2013 from US$5.7 billion in the comparable period in 2012. But the total value of merchandise imports decreased slightly by 0.9 percent from US$41.0 billion in the same period last year to US$40.6 billion. 

In terms of imports source, the People’s Republic of China was the top market for the fourth consecutive period since May 2013, with 13.1 percent share in the total value of inward shipments. 

USA was the second top source of imported goods in August 2013, recording a 9.5 percent share of imports followed by Taiwan (8.6%), Japan (8.3%), and Saudi Arabia (8.2%). 

Esguerra, who is Deputy Director-General for Planning and Policy, is OIC of NEDA from October 22 to 27, 2013, while Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General Arsenio M. Balisacan is on official business abroad.