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[MANILA] Philippine imports grew at a significantly faster pace in March, buoyed by double-digit increases in electronic, iron and steel, industrial machinery and equipment imports, the statistics agency said on Wednesday.
Total imports in the first quarter rose 8.8 per cent to US$18.6 billion from US$17 billion last year.
Electronic imports in March accounted for 27.7 per cent of the country's total imports for the month. Components or semiconductors, which comprise 17.3 per cent of total electronic shipments, were up 15.8 per cent from a year earlier.
Transport equipment, contributing 10.9 per cent to the total and the second biggest import item, dropped 2.3 per cent from last year. But industrial machinery and equipment, which ranked fourth, rose a hefty 50.4 per cent.
The Philippine economy posted its fastest annual growth in nearly three years in the first quarter, as strong domestic demand and investments offset sluggish exports, allowing the central bank to keep its policy unchanged going forward.
Shipment of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials, which accounted for 9.3 per cent of total imports and was the third biggest import item, declined 13.1 per cent from a year ago.