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Trade deficit shoots up more than 200% in Jan-July 2008


September 25, 2008

Philippines: Trade deficit shoots up more than 200% in Jan-July 2008
The Philippines trade deficit for the first seven months of 2008 soared more than 200 percent year-on-year on the back of higher oil, rice and steel costs, AFP reported, quoting official data Thursday.

Figures from the National Statistics Office also showed that the deficit had also risen almost 80 percent in July from the same period last year.

The office said in a statement that the gap between imports and exports from January to July was $5.345 billion, compared with $1.63 billion in 2007, a hike of more than 200 percent.

Imports rose 16 percent to $5.85 billion in the month compared with the same period last year, bringing total imports since January to $35.38 billion, 15.8 percent higher than the same period last year.

The July import figures brought the country's trade deficit in that month to $1.41 billion, some 77.8 percent higher than the deficit in July, 2007.

Mineral fuels, lubricants and other related materials were the country's single largest import in July, amounting to $1.764 billion, or 30.2 percent of the total.

This marked a 71.8 percent increase from the same period last year, the office said.

Electronics products, which were formerly the country's biggest import, was second place, with $1.745 billion, or 29.8 percent of the total, the office said. This was a 17.4 percent decrease from the same period last year.

Such electronic items are key components in the country's own electronics business, which is its largest export.

Cereals were the third largest import item in July, amounting to 6.7 percent of the total or 392.48 million dollars. This was a 130.6 percent increase over the same period last year, the office said.

"This was due to the increase in the importation of rice," the office said. The Philippines is one of the world's largest importers of rice, the national staple.

Saudi Arabia was the largest source of imports to the Philippines in July accounting for 15.9 percent of the total, thanks to the increased prices of oil.

Japan was second with 10.5 percent of the total, while Singapore was third with 10.4 percent.

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