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 26 Apr 2009

Philippines imports declined 32% in February

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Philippine imports plunged 32 percent from a year earlier to 3.06 billion dollars in February as shipments of key electronics components continued to fall, the government was quoted by AFP as saying.

Electronics components, which made up 35.1 percent of total imports, suffered a 42.9 percent drop to 1.074 billion dollars, signalling further bad news for the electronics sector.

The imported components form the basis of the electronics products which make up more than half of the Philippines' exports, indicating shipments will continue to slacken.

Fuel and lubricants, the second-largest imports, also fell 42.7 percent in February to 483.9 million dollars, the National Statistics Office (NSO) said in a statement.

The drop was widely within economists' projections, said Jose Vistan of AB Capital Securities who expected imports to improve in the coming months after indications that developed countries' economies had bottomed out.

"There are early signs of a bottom, although it's too early to conclude a bottom. So the level of decline in our imports could slow down to 20 percent, and so on," Vistan told Dow Jones Newswires.

"We may have seen the worst in percentage drop," he said. However Radhika Rao, an economist from IDEAglobal Ltd., did not expect imports to recover until exports rebound.

"With much of intermediate goods intended for re-exports making up a substantial part of import volumes, until the export end recovers, we don't expect any respite from weak data on this front," Rao said. Despite the fall in imports, the country's trade deficit in February rose 31 percent to 552 million dollars.

The government earlier announced that exports fell 39 percent to 2.51 billion dollars in February. The United States was the main source of the Philippines' imports in February with 652.8 million dollars or 13.6 percent of the total, the NSO said.

However, this was still a 36.2 percent drop from the same period last year. Japan was the second biggest source of imports, with 13.2 percent, while Singapore was third with 12.6 percent.






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