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Outbound shipments from the Philippines grew more than expected in March, but a surprise rise in imports helped drive the country’s trade deficit higher than anticipated.

Exports rose 21 per cent year on year in March, up 10 percentage points from February and coming in comfortably above a median estimate of 15.2 per cent growth from economists polled by Bloomberg.

Imports exceeded expectations as well, rising 24 per cent in March and easily besting a median forecast of 15.3 per cent. They had grown 20.3 per cent in February.

That increase in imports was more than enough to offset the growth in exports, however, as the Philippines’ trade deficit grew almost $600m to $2.3bn in March. Economists had projected a deficit of $2bn.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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