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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        20  April 2011

Philippines’ BOP surplus surges in March

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The Philippine’s balance of payments (BOP) surplus surged by more than tenfold in March with strong inflows from the central bank’s investments and money sent home by Filipinos working abroad.

Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed that the country’s BOP registered a surplus of US$2.020 billion in March or 1,095 percent higher than the $169 million in the same month in 2010.

Year-to-date, the BOP registered a surplus of $3.493 billion, or 173 percent higher than the $1.276 billion in the same three-month period last year.

The central bank attributed this development to the continued shift of capital flows into emerging markets such as the Philippines with a favorable economic outlook.

The robust external payments position for the first quarter was also a result of the proceeds from the national government’s $1.5-billion bond sale during the month and official development assistance loans from multilateral lenders. The country’s BOP position was projected to register a surplus of $6.7 billion this year and $4.5 billion in 2012 amid expectations of a higher trade deficit.

Exports are projected to grow by 9 percent to 10 percent this year and by 12 percent in 2012, while imports are forecast to increase 17 percent to 18 percent in 2011 and 18 percent in 2012. The other forms of investments under the BOP are loans and holdings of currency and deposits. The country’s gross international reserves (GIR) level is projected to reach $70 billion this year and expand to $75 billion in 2012.

The country’s GIR jumped by 45.55 percent to $66.2 billion at end-March from $45.599 billion in the same three-month period in 2010.

The BSP holds international reserves for the foreign exchange requirements of the country in case the domestic commercial banks’ supply of the greenback falls short of demand.

The foreign assets that the BSP holds are mostly in the form of investments in foreign-issued securities, monetary gold and foreign exchange. An ample GIR level helps prop up the peso and keeps domestic inflation at bay.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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