The country’s balance of payments (BOP) for 1999 yielded an overall surplus of $3.839 billion, nearly triple the previous year’s level of $1.359 billion. The year-long strength of the current account led to this favorable development.
With double-digit export growth sustained throughout the year, coupled with the modest expansion in imports, the trade in goods balance posted a $4.306 billion surplus, compared to the $28 million deficit recorded in 1998. Merchandise exports reached $35.032 billion during the year, 18.8 percent higher than the corresponding year-ago level. Electronic products, which accounted for 60.4 percent share of total exports, registered a robust 23.5 percent growth. Machinery and transport equipment also ended the year as another export winner.
Imports of goods grew by 4.1 percent to $30.726 billion. Raw materials and intermediate goods, which comprised 41.0 percent of the total import bill, increased by 8.7 percent in 1999. With the stronger rebound of the economy in the second semester, raw material imports rose by 12.2 percent from July to December, a marked improvement from the 5.6 percent growth in the first semester. The acceleration of imports could be a harbinger of an even brisker economic activity in the coming year.
Meanwhile, the capital and financial account yielded a net inflow of $590 million, due mainly to medium- and long-term loans. The year ended with the successful flotation by the national government of global and euro bonds amounting to $400 million and $260 million, respectively.
Both the current account and the overall bop surpluses of $7.188 billion and $3.839 billion for January-December 1999 exceeded the corresponding targets of $1.665 billion and $3.16 billion. Gross international reserves (GIR) at end-December reached $15.024 billion, based on the accounting of reserves prior to the adoption in January 2000 of the newly IMF recommended system. At this level, GIR was $291 million higher than the $14.733 billion target for the year.