MANILA, Philippines - Merchandise imports grew 6.6% in July from a year earlier, but the country's main import item, electronics and semiconductor, fell over 28% due to weak global demand, official data showed on Tuesday.
The country's total import bill amounted to $5 billion in July, according to the National Statistics Office. Growth during the month was flat from June.
Electronics imports, which are raw materials used in the export industry, fell 28.6% from 2010 to $1.17 billion.
"Philippine imports remained lackluster in July with the growth pace much smaller than that of first quarter," Standard Chartered (Hong Kong) analyst Betty Wang said.
"The anaemic trade sector is a drag to the domestic economic growth in second quarter in addition to the disappointing investment performance. We expect the trade performance to still be a blow to the GDP growth in the second half if the electronics sector is still slow to recover on the back of weak global demand," she added.
China was the Philippines' top import source, accounting for 11.5% of total purchases in July, followed by Japan with 9.6% and the United States with 9.2%.
Imports from Eastern Asia -- the top import source by economic bloc accounting for 36.6% of total shipments -- were up 4.7% in July from a year earlier. Southeast Asia and the European Union were the second and third top economic blocs.
Socioeconomic planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga has said the government's 2011 macroeconomic targets, including the 17-18% imports growth forecast and 9-10% export growth estimate, will be reviewed after second quarter growth slowed more than expected.
Imports grew 27% and exports 34% in 2010.
Apart from electronic parts and fuel, the Philippines' other top imports are cereals such as rice, electrical and industrial machinery and transport equipment. - With Reuters