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[MANILA] Philippine imports in January rose nearly 31 per cent from a year earlier, the statistics office said on Wednesday.
Merchandise imports in January were the highest since July last year when shipments were valued at US$6.85 billion, government data showed.
Electronic imports in January accounted for 32.4 per cent of the country's total imports for the month. Components or semiconductors, which comprise 22.5 per cent of total electronic shipments, rose 64.4 per cent from a year earlier.
Shipment of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials, which accounted for 10.2 per cent of total imports and was the second biggest import item, declined 6.8 per cent from a year ago.
Transport equipment, accounting for 10.1 per cent of total imports and the third biggest import item, rose 61.5 per cent from last year, while industrial machinery and equipment ranked fourth, rising an annual 57.6 per cent.
Philippine exports in January slipped to their lowest in three years on weak demand in key markets such as China, a trend that could persist in the near term though a bump-up in government spending is seen supporting one of Asia's fastest growing economies.
The country had a trade deficit of US$2.638 billion in January, compared with a deficit of US$861.8 million in the same month last year.
The central bank sees a US$5.7 billion current account surplus this year, compared with a surplus of US$8.4 billion last year.
After rising 7.9 per cent in 2015, shipments of electronic products this year may just be 0-4 per cent higher than last year, reflecting slow demand from key market China, industry group Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc said last month.
The central bank said an improving global economy should boost Philippine exports by 5 per cent this year while imports would grow 10 per cent.