Increased production of basic metals, transport equipment, petroleum products and food manufactures continued to drive manufacturing output in January 2017, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The Philippine Statistics Authority’s Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries (MISSI) reports that the Volume of Production Index (VoPI) for manufacturing grew by 9.3 percent in January 2017, slower than the 35.8 percent growth recorded in the same month last year.

“The outlook of industry firms for the first quarter of 2017 remains optimistic as business expansion, higher energy sales, and implementation of construction projects are anticipated,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing Value of Production Index (VaPI) for January 2017 also increased at a slower rate of 11.6 percent, compared with last year’s 25.9 percent.

Production volume in food manufacturing grew by 28.6 percent, higher than the 17.6 percent growth recorded in the same month last year. This was driven by increased demand for food, beverages, and processed meat.

Production and net sales of transport equipment also increased during the period, seeing high domestic demand for motor vehicles.

For intermediate goods, production volume and value of petroleum products also increased by 45.3 percent and 87.2 percent, respectively. This is attributed to the temporary decrease in supply resulting from shutdowns of several oil refineries in the Middle East and in Asia.

“Firms remain cautious on some risks to growth such as rising oil prices, increased cost of raw materials due to peso depreciation, and higher interest rates,” the Cabinet official said.

Meanwhile, the first month of the year also saw growth in construction-related manufactures due to higher production volume of basic metals, fabricated metals, and non-metallic mineral products.

Also, production volume of export-oriented products like footwear and apparel, and wood products sustained upward trends in January 2017.

“These signal that the global economy is improving. Increased trade in emerging markets like China and Russia have definitely contributed to production growth of Philippine exports,” said Pernia.

He added that the implementation of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 will further support the growth of the manufacturing sector.

“We need to expand economic opportunities in the industry and services sectors by increasing local and foreign investments, promoting competitiveness through science, technology and innovation, as well as improving market access,” said Pernia.