MANILA, October 20, 2004 (STAR) By Rica D. Delfinado - The country’s imports rebounded in August, rising by 8.9 percent to $3.379 billion from $3.104 billion in the same period last year as payments for crude oil products soared during the review period, the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported yesterday.

The latest growth figure marked a strong recovery from July when imports rose by only 5.6 percent.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the increase in import payment in August was also due to higher domestic demand for certain imported commodities.

Total merchandise imports in the first eight months of the year rose to $26.734 billion, up 7.2 percent from the same period in 2003, the government statistics office said.

Exports in August rose 13.7 percent to $3.415 billion, allowing the country to post a trade surplus of $36 million in that month, a sharp reversal from the $101 million deficit incurred in August 2003.

In the first eight months of the year, the trade deficit stood at $1.479 billion, down from the deficit of $1.671 billion in the same period last year.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director General Romulo L. Neri said that purchases of mineral fuels, lubricant and related materials and consumer goods continue to rise during the review period.

The rise in imports in August came despite a decline in the entry of electronic products used as components in the country’s export-based electronics industry.

Imports of electronic products hit $1.437 billion in August or 42.5 percent of the total. But this was a 2.9 percent decline compared to August 2003.

Payments for mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials amounted to $428.97 million, up by a strong 33.8 percent over the previous year’s level.

The NSO said the rise was due mainly to the continued increase in global oil prices.

Demand for industrial machinery and equipment, the third top import, was worth $130.78 million, or a decrease of 6.3 percent from $139.52 million in the previous year.

Imports of telecommunication products, medical and industrial instrumentation and automotive electronic products went up by double digit rates.

According to Neri, this was an indication of the robust growth in call/contact and business process outsourcing services and medical and health industry.

Japan emerged as the country’s single biggest source of imports with $620.51 million or 18.4 percent of total. The US was the second biggest source with shipments worth $559.7 million or 16.6 percent of total. –with a report from Ted Torres

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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