MANILA, APRIL 12, 2006
 (STAR) By Rica D. Delfinado - The country’s export earnings in February recovered from the previous month’s slump as overseas sales of computer parts and other electronic goods picked up, the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported yesterday.

Exports gained 9.8 percent to $3.3 billion in February from $3 billion in the same period last year.

In the first two months of the year, exports rose 4.2 percent to $6.561 billion from $6.294 billion a year earlier.

Sales of computer parts and other electronics, which account for 67 percent of exports, rose 10.3 percent in February after declining 2.2 percent in January.

"Going forward, global electronics demand will support overseas shipments,’’ said Leslie Khoo, an economist at Forecast Singapore Pte, who expects Philippine exports to rise nine percent this year after slowing to 3.9 percent in 2005.

Garments were the second top revenue earner in February with a combined share for apparel and clothing accessories of 5.7 percent worth $188.71 million, while imports of ignition and other wiring sets ranked third with sales of $60.69 million, down 5.3 percent year-on-year.

The government expects exports to gain eight percent this year, helping create jobs and accelerating economic growth to as much as 6.2 percent.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) earlier predicted that rising global demand for electronics, which began in 2005, would "continue through most of 2006." Demand for semiconductors and other electronic goods "is expected to be robust," the Manila- based lender said.

Worldwide spending on information technology will rise 6.3 percent this year, more than previously forecast, because of better-than-expected growth in Japan and Western Europe, researcher IDC said. Global technology spending climbed 6.9 percent last year to $1.08 trillion.

Gains in exports, which account for about two-fifths of the $85 billion Philippine economy, last year slowed from 2004’s 10 percent increase.

Shipments to the US, the biggest buyer of local goods, rose 19.9 percent to $623.3 million, faster than the previous month’s 0.4 percent gain. Sales to China, the fourth-biggest market, rose 26.6 percent to $319.7 million.

Exports to Japan, the second-largest market, fell for the sixth month in seven, declining 11.4 percent to $544.5 million.

Competition from China and India, particularly in electronics, is hurting Philippine exports to Japan, Forecast’s Khoo said.

"The growth in February is not spectacular enough for us to conclude that this is the beginning of a recovery" for Philippine exports, said Christy Tan, a Singapore-based economist at Bank of America, who had forecast a 17 percent gain.

Philippine exporters need to develop new products that would be more competitive overseas and seek new markets to increase sales, Tan said. The government should invest in improving roads and ports to help reduce transportation time and costs, she said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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