Exports grew 11 percent in February to $4.78 billion from a year ago, while imports surged 20.3 percent to $6.5 billion, amid strong domestic production and demand.
The National Economic and Development Authority said the double-digit growth in exports and imports pushed up the total merchandise trade by 16.1 percent in February.
Data from the Philippines Statistics Authority showed total trade rose to $11.3 billion, representing the second consecutive double-digit growth this year.
“We see this as a strong follow-through to the 14.2-percent growth of total Philippine trade recorded in January, keeping our country’s economy on-track in sustaining its momentum of growth,” Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement.
Exports in February climbed from $4.31 billion a year ago, driven by growth in sales of manufactured goods (up 6.2 percent), minerals (up 99.5 percent) and petroleum products (up 224.6 percent).
“The healthy growth in Philippine exports was mainly driven by higher exports to East Asian countries, comprising 48.3 percent share in total exports. Receipts from Hong Kong and China surged by 66 percent and 24.7 percent growth, respectively,” Pernia said.
He said Philippine exports to Asean countries grew 18.8 percent in the same period, a good sign that the country was forging stronger connections with Asean neighbors.
Meanwhile, import payments jumped from $5.414 billion in February 2015, led by increased demand for mineral fuels and lubricants (up 97.3 percent), raw materials and intermediate goods (up 7.9 percent), capital goods (up 18 percent) and consumer goods (up 21.5 percent).
“The performance of trade in the first two months of the year is a good indication that we are on an upward trajectory. With Asean chairmanship and China’s rebalancing to a more consumer-oriented growth, the Philippines is expected to have expansions in terms of products and markets,” Pernia said.
He said to ensure the sustainability of this growth, it should be balanced with efforts to improve the competitiveness of exports.
DBS Bank of Singapore said Tuesday the 20.3-percent growth in imports in February was encouraging and at the current pace, full-year import growth was on track to top 10 percent.
“We continue to see upside risks to our current GDP growth forecasts of 6.4 percent and 6.7 percent in 2017 and 2018, respectively,” DBS said.
“Compared to the 12-percent rise in imports of intermediate goods during the same period, it is clear that the strong showing in import growth has been driven mainly by the robust domestic demand,” DBS said.
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