Lower oil prices prompt imports decline

MANILA, Philippines – Lower payments of oil and raw materials reduced the country’s merchandise imports by 6.8 percent in March 2015, the National Economic and Development Authority announced on Tuesday.


“The low oil-price condition remains favorable to the current balance of trade, particularly for trade-in-goods of the country as global oil prices continue to hover way below US$100 per barrel at US$51.6 for the first quarter of 2015,” NEDA Director-General Arsenio Balisacan said.


From $5.5 billion in March 2014, total import payments fell to $5.1 billion in March 2015. The decline follows the 10.2-percent rebound in February and 10.8 percent annual growth in March 2014, according to a report from the Philippine Statistics Authority.


“The drop in the imports value for semi-processed raw materials can be attributed to decreasing prices of raw materials, a trend which has been occurring for five consecutive months since November 2014,” Balisacan explained.


Balisacan added that the growth in imports of major commodities shows that the confidence in the economy remains strong.


He urged the government to improve the confidence of investors and consumers to prompt expansion and investment in capital goods.


“Also, as the government continues to monitor areas affected by the intense heat due to El Niao, careful planning and timely importation of food products particularly rice is critical to ensure stability of food prices especially in anticipation of an extended dry season,” Balisacan said.