IMPORTS for the whole of 2006 grew 8.7% to $51.52 billion even with a 1.3% decrease last December, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO).
Last year’s imports growth is below the government target of 11%, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority director-general Romulo Neri said in a memorandum to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“With exports posting a 13.9% growth and totaling $47.0 billion, the balance of trade for the year stands at a deficit of $4.5 billion, which is lower compared to the $6.2 billion deficit in the previous year,” he added.
According to the NSO, the drop in imports was due to the contraction in most commodity goods, including capital goods (-4.4%), consumer goods (-6.7%), raw materials and intermediate goods (-0.04%) and special transactions (-67.4%). Imports of mineral fuels, lubricants, and related materials continue to maintain its positive growth of 17.7%.
Imports of electronic products, com-prising 50% of the December payments slowed down 0.06% as major categories declined such as semiconductors (-1.2%), electronic data processing (-1.1%).
The US continues to be the country’s top source of imports with a 16.3% share, though in a much lower scale compared to its 19.2% share in 2005. Aside from Japan, which is the country’s second-largest source of imports, imports from other parts of Asia have also been growing significantly.