Philippine electronics exports can still expand by a targeted 10% in 2007 despite a disappointing performance in April and a drop in imports of parts, an industry group said.

Electronics make up over 60% of total Philippine exports, which has been one of the bright spots of the country’s economy. But electronics exports grew only 1.1% year-on-year in April after 7.3% expansion in March and imports of parts needed for finished products dropped.

According to figures announced on Tuesday, imports of electronics parts plunged 17.3% in April from a year ago and were down 19.4% from March, signaling a weak export performance ahead.

Ernesto Santiago, executive director of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI), however said the figures could be distorted by the Easter holidays in April, when the Roman Catholic nation comes to a standstill for almost an entire week.

“The global environment is conducive for us to grow this year,” Santiago told Reuters, adding that exporters were generally optimistic about export revenues in the second quarter.

“There has been inventory pick up, they are preparing for Q2 so Q2 is a bullish quarter,” he said.

Santiago said wireless applications, mobile phone, consumer products like LCDs and high-definition television sets and iPod would be the main drivers of growth for the electronics sector this year.

Last year, electronics export grew 11%, slightly higher than the industry’s 10% projection. SEIPI projects a further 10% growth in exports in 2007.

Analysts said the import numbers were worrying because they came despite strengthening in the peso currency.

“It does not augur well for electronics exports in coming months, given the 17.3% plunge in April’s electronics imports in spite of the stronger peso,” said Patricia Lui, managing analyst with Informal Global Markets in Singapore. (Reuters)