* August exports post steepest annual drop in eight months
* Value of shipments lowest since December 2011
* Weak export data reinforces rate cut views
(Adds trade secy, c.bank deputy governor comments, details)
MANILA, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The Philippine's annual exportsfell by the most in eight months in August, casting doubt on thegovernment's 2012 export growth goal and increasing the pressureon the central bank to ease policy further to support thetrade-reliant economy.
Exports in August dropped 9 percent from a year earlier,dragging the value of shipments to its lowest since December, assemiconductors and electronics exports, the country's top exportitem, fell 14.9 percent, the National Statistics Office said onWednesday.
The slowdown in exports will be taken into considerationalongside other economic indicators when the central bankreviews its monetary policy, Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundosaid shortly after the data was announced.
"It is necessary that the BSP recognises its implication onmonetary policy," Guinigundo told Reuters. "Exports is only oneof the many indicators we consider in ascertaining the strengthor weakness of the global economy for which monetary policyshould be pitched."
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The drop in August exports, reflecting weakness in globaldemand, coupled with a manageable inflation outlook, strengthensthe case for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to cut rates forthe fourth time this year at its meeting this month.
"With the inflation surge slightly subdued now, we think itis very likely the BSP cuts interest rates by 25 basis points inthe fourth quarter, and could happen as early as the meetinglater this month," said Jeff Ng, economist at Standard Charteredin Singapore.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which next meets on Oct. 25to review policy, has kept its overnight borrowing rate at arecord low 3.75 percent following three cuts this year - thelast in July - totaling 75 basis points. The cuts were aimed atshielding the economy against external shocks.
EXPORT GOAL IN DOUBT
Shipments to two of the country's top markets in August --the United States and China -- posted double digit drops inannual terms, offsetting the rise in orders from Japan andSingapore.
Exports were up 5.4 percent from a year ago in the firsteight months of the year, making it unlikely that this year's 10percent exports target will be met.
"The realistic growth for this year is between 5 and 7percent,", Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo told reporters. "Idon't think we can still reach 10 percent."
The Semiconductors and Electronics Industries in thePhilippines Inc said it would review its export growth forecastof 5-7 percent this year when the group meets later this month.
(Reporting by Karen Lema and Erik dela Cruz; Editing byJacqueline Wong)
Keywords: PHILIPPINES ECONOMY/EXPORTS