MANILA, Philippines - Philippine imports in January jumped 21.8 percent to $5.76 billion from a year earlier, the biggest since March 2011 when they rose 21.9 percent, the statistics agency said on Tuesday.
The country's largest imports are components used by the semiconductor and electronics industry, the biggest export sector and a major contributor to the economy.
Imports of electronic parts in January climbed 11.1 percent to $1.28 billion from a year earlier, the highest since September.
Exports climbed for an eighth-month in a row in January, although at a slower pace, supported by a 22.1 percent increase in electronics exports. Total exports in 2013 rose 3.6 percent to $54 billion.
The country's trade deficit in January of $1.38 billion nearly doubled from a year ago gap of $716 million
The electronics industry group has forecast electronic exports will grow 5 percent this year. Based on the central bank's latest estimates, Philippine exports are expected to rise 6 percent this year, and imports to grow 6 percent.
The destruction wrought in the central Philippines in November by super typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest to ever hit land, could spur more imports of construction materials for rebuilding of communities, officials have said.
Total imports in 2013 were down 0.7 percent to $61.7 billion from a year ago. The country had a trade deficit of $695 million in December, widening the total trade gap in 2013 to $7.73 billion.
Officials have set an economic growth target of 6.5-7.5 percent this year, after growth of 7.2 percent in 2013.