* January imports rise for 24th month in a row
* Trade deficit narrows to $2.314 bln
By Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr
MANILA, March 10 Philippine exports rose at
their quickest pace in three years in January on demand for
technology goods and commodities, while continuing strong
imports underlined a buoyant domestic economy.
The Southeast Asian economy is one of the fastest growing in
the world and strengthening global trade could complement robust
domestic consumption as President Rodrigo Duterte's government
aims to sustain annual growth above 7 percent during his
Exports in January rose 22.5 percent from a year earlier,
gaining for a second month in a row, while imports jumped 9.1
percent, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed on
The country's trade deficit narrowed to $2.314 billion from
$2.638 billion a year ago. An improving trade balance would help
bolster the peso, emerging Asia's second-worst performing
currency last year. The peso was mostly unchanged on the data.
Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank, said the
spike in exports was largely in line with the strength in
shipments elsewhere in Asia.
"There is a confluence of low-base effect and also seasonal
uptick that went into the end of last year," he said.
Eight of the country's top 10 export products rose in
January, with electronics up 10.4 percent from a year earlier.
Electronics remained the country's No. 1 export, accounting for
46.1 percent of total revenue in January.
The country's biggest imports for the month were
electronics, mineral fuels, transport equipment, industrial
machinery, and iron and steel.
Exports to the country's top trading partners such as the
United States and China increased 21.2 percent and 23.6 percent,
respectively, in January from a year earlier. Shipments to
Japan, the biggest export market, fell 6.6 percent.
While the Philippine economy is largely driven by domestic
consumption, Varathan said it would also be buffeted by any
change in external trends.
"We want to see how trade negotiations between the U.S. and
China pan out and the corresponding knock-on effect that you'll
see in Asia," Varathan said.
(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing
by Jacqueline Wong)