The country’s Balance of Payments (BOP) for January-August 1999 yielded an overall surplus of $2.995 billion, more than double the year-ago surplus of $935 million. The improvement was due mainly to the bigger surplus in both the current, as well as the capital and financial accounts.
The sustained robust growth of exports even amid the increasing pick-up in imports pulled the trade in goods balance to a surplus of $1.305 billion for the first eight months of the year, with the surplus of $550 million registered in august posting the highest monthly surplus since 1997. Merchandise exports reached $21.865 billion for the first eight months of the year, growing by 14.7 percent. Electronics products continued to dominate Philippine exports, with a share of 59.5 percent, and remained among the pacesetters with a growth of 20.8 percent. Aside from electronics, exports of machinery and transport equipment also continued to be a top export gainer. On the other hand, imports continued to recover, registering a 1.7 percent growth in January-August 1999 over the year-ago level. This indicated that the various industrial sectors are starting to respond positively to the brighter macroeconomic prospects. In August 1999, a year-on-year import growth of 6.1 percent was recorded due mainly to higher raw materials and intermediate goods imports. Starting June, a rebound in the importation of capital goods was also noted.
Meanwhile, the capital account yielded a net inflow of $1.510 billion, with sustained net inflows of medium and long-term loans and investments. Portfolio investments by non-residents managed a net inflow of $448 million, given the mixed sentiments towards the equities market in recent months.
The actual current account and overall BOP positions are now closer to the targets for the whole year. The overall BOP surplus for 1999 is projected at $3.16 billion compared to the actual level of $2.995 billion, while the current account target of $1.665 billion surplus has already exceeded by the January-August level of $3.331 billion. Moreover, Gross International Reserves at end-August 1999 reached $14.189 billion, $205 million higher than the projected level of $13.984 billion.