Philippine economy may be one of few winners in 2019 regional slowdown

Ralf Rivas

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Philippine economy may be one of few winners in 2019 regional slowdown
The Asian Development Bank trims its 2019 growth prospects for the Philippines, but expects it to be among the few countries which may beat their 2018 figures

MANILA, Philippines – Economic growth is expected to moderate in the next two years, but the Philippines may somewhat be among the few winners in an uncertain business environment.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in its 2019 outlook on Wednesday, April 3, that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) could bounce to 6.4% from 2018’s 6.2%.

The ADB’s latest projection is lower than last year’s revised estimate of 6.7%

It also projected a 6.4% growth for 2020.

However, when compared to regional peers, the Philippines is one of the few countries expected to post higher GDP growth in 2019 compared to what was posted last year.

The Philippines joins Brunei and Myanmar, the other countries expected to beat their 2018 GDP growth.

The global economy is expected to struggle amid weakening global growth, slowing trade, and softer commodity prices. (READ: ‘Precarious’ global rebound expected in late 2019 – IMF’s Lagarde)

“Growth overall remains solid with domestic consumption strong or expanding in most economies around the region. This is softening the impact of slowing exports,” said ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada.

The Japan-led multilateral lender said the Philippine economy is standing strong on a low unemployment rate, sustained rise in remittances, and slowing inflation.

Increased public investments in social services and infrastructure will also greatly contribute to economic growth.

However, the ADB said that the Philippines will face several headwinds this year, stemming from natural and political causes.

“Agriculture will likely continue to languish – especially as El Niño weather disturbances are expected to prolong dry spells this year – but services, construction, and manufacturing will all drive growth higher in the near term,” it said.

The ADB also cited the delay in the approval of the 2019 national budget as a factor which would slow down the implementation of new infrastructure projects and programs.

The government is aiming to hit 6% to 7% GDP growth for 2019.

The World Bank earlier cited these reasons for the trimmed economic outlook for 2019. It also projected a GDP growth of 6.4% for this year, lower than its earlier projection of 6.5%. –

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.