* March trade deficit at $146 mln vs yr-ago $253 mln deficit
* March electronics imports down 4.3 pct yr/yr
* Q1 trade deficit $1.85 bln
MANILA, May 27 Philippine imports in March rose 9.6 percent from a year earlier, the statistics agency said on Tuesday.
KEY DATA Mar Feb Jan Dec Nov Oct Imports ($ bln) 5.43 4.79 5.96 5.45 5.59 4.84 yr/yr chg (pct) 9.6 1.7 24.7 2.7 7.4 -8.2
NOTE: Previous data for 2014 were revised. The Philippine Statistics Authority has revised the trade data series for 2013 and is in the process of reworking data for 2012 and earlier years.
- Top imports in March were mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials, accounting for 23.6 percent of total. Mineral fuel imports climbed an annual 23.3 percent to $1.28 billion during the month.
- Imports of electronic parts in March, the second top shipment, fell 4.3 percent from a year earlier, to $1.2 billion.
- Electronics imports are components used by the semiconductor and electronics industry, the biggest export sector and a major contributor to the economy.
- The country had a trade deficit of $146 million in March, bringing the trade gap in the first quarter to $1.85 billion.
- The electronics industry group has forecast electronic exports will grow 5 percent this year.
- The Philippine Statistics Authority has revised trade data for 2013 after including figures that weren't captured earlier, and will also revise trade numbers for previous years.
- Based on the new revised data, the Philippines had a trade deficit of $5.71 billion in 2013, much lower than the previously reported deficit of $7.85 billion.
- The central bank's latest estimates show Philippine exports are expected to rise 6 percent this year, and imports to grow 6 percent.
- The destruction wrought in the central Philippines in November by super typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest to ever hit land, could spur more imports of construction materials for rebuilding of communities, Philippine officials have said.
- Officials have set an economic growth target of 6.5-7.5 percent this year, after growth of 7.2 percent in 2013.
(Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)