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11 March 2010

Philippine reports fastest rise of exports in 15 years

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The Philippines said Wednesday that exports rose at their fastest pace in nearly 15 years in January as the Southeast Asian nation reaped the benefits of an improving world economy, reported AFP.

Exports amounted to $3.58 billion in January, a 42.5-percent increase from the same month in 2009, the National Statistics Office said. It was the fastest growth rate since April 1995, when the sector grew 42.62 percent, the office's research division said.

Electronics products, the country's top export sector which accounts for more than half of total shipments, rose 51.2 percent to 2.03 billion dollars year-on-year in January, it said.

"The global economy is bouncing back, and demands specially for electronic products are back on track," said Astro del Castillo, an analyst at First Grade Holdings Inc.

"Last year was really the bottom, and we are now really seeing a start of a reversal." Exports for January were also up 8.0 percent from December, the statistics office said. Paul Balaoing of PCCI Securities said the January growth clip was "one of the fastest in terms of pace in recent years".

"We came from a low base last year, when exports were down, so now we have a good start for the year and we will probably experience a much better growth rate moving forward," he said.

However analysts said the rise was expected as it compared with last year's poor figures during the global slump, and that the data did not change the general forecasts for economic growth this year.

The government has set a target for economic growth of between 2.6 and 3.6 percent this year, from an 11-year low of 0.9 percent in 2009. Nevertheless, Nestor Aguila of DA Market Securities said the exports report helped buoy investor sentiment at the stock market, with the key index closing 0.40 percent higher.

"It's a very, very positive growth figure and good news especially for the manufacturing sector," Aguila said. Within the electronic sector, semiconductors rose 59.0 percent to 1.47 billion dollars, and accounted for 41.0 percent of total shipments in January.

Japan was the country's top export market, buying 579.98 million dollars worth of Philippine goods or 16.2 percent of total shipments, while the United States was second, accounting for 574.5 million dollars.


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