Philippine merchandise imports grew by 10.1 percent in November 2015 topping ten of its Asian peers, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that total payments for imported goods climbed to US$6.1 billion in November 2015, from US$5.5 billion that was recorded in the same period last year. The growth was due to higher purchases of capital goods, consumer goods, and raw materials and intermediate goods.

The value of imported capital goods, a leading indicator of strong economic activity, grew by 40.8 percent in November 2015. Likewise, import payments for raw materials and intermediate goods, which account for 41.4 percent of the country’s total imports, rose by 14.0 percent to US$2.5 billion. Import payments for consumer goods also grew by 8.0 percent to US$1.0 billion due to higher purchases of durable goods and home appliances.

“Despite an expected slow recovery in the global economy, continued growth in the country’s merchandise imports signifies the increasing investment demand in the Philippines,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

The Philippines ranked first among its Asian peers in terms of imports growth in November 2015. Except Vietnam who had a 6.6-percent imports growth, all other nine selected Asian economies (People’s Republic of China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, and Indonesia) declined in the period.

 Meanwhile, imports of mineral products and lubricants declined (-40.1%), weighed down mainly by lower imports of petroleum crude from Saudi Arabia, Japan and Vietnam.

“External events such as the decline in commodity prices, especially crude oil, will be beneficial for the economy as it leads to lower production costs,” the Cabinet official said.

 “We also expect the trend of low oil prices to continue as demand softens with slower economic growth. Oversupply could happen as oil-exporting economies continue to produce to drive down prices and maintain market share,” added Balisacan.

He thus urged the government to continue being vigilant against possible external shocks, considering uncertainties stemming from the impact of monetary tightening in the US, economic slowdown and structural transformation of China, and the continued geopolitical tensions in various regions.

“The strong macroeconomic fundamentals of the Philippines such as robust growth, low inflation, healthy external buffers, and improving fiscal situation, provide safeguards against a period of global volatility. The government needs to quickly address underspending and make better use of its still adequate fiscal space to avert the negative impacts of the global downturn,” said Balisacan.