Rampant software piracy persists in the Philippines, costing vendors 69 million dollars in lost revenue last year, an industry association said.

Pirated software accounted for 71 percent of sales in 2004, down one percentage point from the previous year, the Business Software Alliance said in a statement.

Software vendors' losses however rose 14 million dollars over 2003 to 69 million dollars.

"The drop in the software piracy rate in the Philippines, although minimal is a positive development," said Ronald Chua, country chairman of the alliance.

"Nonetheless, the rate of 71 percent is still one of the highest in the Asia-Pacific region and needs to be brought down significantly to accelerate the growth of the (information technology) industry."

Chua said the Philippines' software piracy rates were exceeded only by Vietnam at 92 percent, Ukraine on 91 percent, China and Zimbabwe, both on 90 percent and Indonesia with 87 percent.

The BSA said the countries with the lowest software piracy rates were the United States on 21 percent, New Zealand 23 percent, Austria 25 percent, Sweden 26 percent and Britain on 27 percent.