Philippine July exports add to signs of pick up in global demand

MANILA Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:05am IST

A labourer works with sacks of bitumen for road construction in front of containers awaiting delivery at one of Manila's main ports October 18, 2012. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

A labourer works with sacks of bitumen for road construction in front of containers awaiting delivery at one of Manila's main ports October 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine exports climbed for a second month in a row in July, joining regional peers showing similarly strong shipments in recent months in another encouraging sign of an uptick in global demand.

Analysts said the recovery in exports in the Philippines, one of Asia's fastest growing economies, looks set to continue in coming months as major economies appear to be on the mend.

Exports in August grew 2.3 percent on-year, led by electronics shipments rising 11.2 percent to an eight-month high, the National Statistics Office said on Tuesday.

The Southeast Asian nation provides about 10 percent of the world's semiconductor manufacturing services, including for mobile phone chips and micro processors.

Tuesday's data underscores evidence of a pick in demand globally, with the recent run of upbeat factory activity data from China, United States and Europe suggesting the world economy was on a firmer footing.

Closer to home, Japan's economy has been growing strongly over the first half of this year on the back of the government's aggressive stimulus policies.

The positive growth signs globally has been reflected in a rebound in exports in the region.

Taiwan and South Korea posted big jumps in August exports, while Malaysia saw its exports climb the most in over a year in July amid signs of stabilization in advanced economies.

Singapore's non-oil domestic exports fell slightly in July, but it expects a modest pick up in coming months in tandem with the projected gradual recovery in global demand.

"Domestic demand from the U.S. and Japan is recovering, a good sign for export growth in the region," said Jeff Ng, economist at Standard Chartered in Singapore.

A sustained recovery in exports bodes well for the Philippine economy, which is targeting growth of as high as 7 percent this year.

The nation's economy expanded by a faster-than-expected 7.5 percent in April-June, matching China's expansion for the second consecutive quarter as domestic spending and investments buttressed it from capital outflows and weak exports.

The rebound in the electronics and semiconductor shipments, the country top export item, suggests consumption demand from the likes of the United States is starting to pick up.

"The electronics sector was also likely boosted by stronger demand from the U.S., given the book to bill ratios for the past few months have been hinting at increased orders already," Ng said.

The electronics industry group has said it was sticking to its 5 to 6 percent growth for the sector this year, with expectations of a pick-up in global demand for smartphones and tablets.

Total shipments to Japan, the country's top export destination in July, and China were up 24.2 percent and 27.7 percent, respectively. Exports to the U.S. were down 8.7 percent, but analysts expect demand from the world's largest economy to pick up in the coming months in line with a steady recovery seen recently.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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