* February imports down 2.8 percent mth/mth
* Electronics imports down 5.1 percent yr/yr to $1.43 billion
* February trade deficit at $562 million
MANILA, April 27 (Reuters) – Philippine imports in February
rose 4.9 percent from a year earlier, the statistics office said
KEY DATA February January December November October Sept
Imports ($ billion) 4.99 5.13 4.63 5.0 5.02 5.08
yr/yr chg ( percent) 4.9 -3.2 -6.4 0.7 2.3 10.4
– The country’s largest import item are inputs used by the semiconductor and electronics industry, which are also the biggest export sector and a major contributor to the economy. Imports of electronic parts fell 5.1 percent in February from a year earlier after the previous month’s 26.9 percent drop.
– Merchandise exports climbed 14.6 percent in February from a year ago, the highest growth since April, driven by a rebound in its main electronics shipments and boosting hopes for stronger economic growth this year.
– The government has forecast exports to grow 10 percent this year, and imports 15 percent as manufacturers seek to shore up depleted inventories.
– Apart from electronic parts and fuel, the Philippines’ other top imports are cereals such as rice, electrical and industrial machinery, transport equipment, iron, steel and metal scraps.
– deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo told Reuters on Wednesday the central bank would keep interest rates at historically low levels for now, with most economic indicators pointing to faster growth and manageable inflation this year.
– Most analysts expect the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to hold the main interest rate at a record low of 4.0 percent for the whole year after cutting 25 basis points each at the first two policy reviews this year.