Philippines: 4.5% growth in 2008

This is from the Tribune (Manila)

This rate is down a lot from the 7.2 percent growth in 2007 but given the global depression it is not all that bad. Interesting that about ten percent of GDP comes from overseas worker remittances. With the global economy in recession some of those workers will no doubt return to the Philippines increasing unemployment. There will probably be a decline in remittances as well.

4.6% growth slowest in 6 years but still surprises
The government announced yesterday that the economy grew 4.6 percent last year, the weakest since 2002 but better than expectations, after growth came in at 4.5 percent in the last quarter.
The surprising growth rate was achieved after the government revised the third quarter figure to a five percent growth from the initial 4.6 percent.
Full-year growth for 2008 was also down from the 7.2 percent the previous year which had been a 30-year high and economic officials said they expected the economy to continue expanding this year.
“Our economy is expected to remain resilient and prepared for the eventual economic rebound,” Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said, calling a growth target of between 3.7 and 4.7 percent this year “a welcome challenge.”
“I don’t expect a recession. There will still be growth,” he said after the figures were released yesterday.
The fourth-quarter growth figure marked a slowdown from the 6.5 percent recorded in the same period in 2007, but was ahead of analyst forecasts of around four percent.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. said inflation will likely fall further in January to between seven and 7.9 percent after easing to eight percent in December due to lower oil prices and the stronger peso.
Recto said the government would still spend as much as P330 billion as part of a stimulus package including infrastructure projects, tax breaks and joint ventures with the private sector.
The positive growth has come even though some traditionally important sectors of the economy, such as electronics and garments, are heavily export-dependent and have been hit hard by the global crisis.
Recto said between 60,000 to 100,000 jobs were at risk in the “vulnerable sectors” but expressed confidence that not everyone in these areas would be laid off.
“Overall, the Philippines will be better insulated from the collapse of external demand compared with other Asian economies,” said Vincent Tien You Tsui, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank.
Exports account for just around one-third of the nation’s economy, which is also reliant on remittances sent home from the estimated eight million Philippine nationals working abroad.
The BSP announced last month that Filipinos working overseas sent home $1.43 billion in October, the second-largest amount in a single month since records began.
For years, the vast army of workers has managed to keep the Philippine economy buoyant with remittances, which help anchor domestic consumption.
In 2007, they sent home $14.4 billion, equivalent to 10 percent of gross domestic product.


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