PH outperforms Asian neighbors, but not China

Philippines is among the fastest-growing Asian economies for the first half of the year, so far topped only by China and Indonesia, the country's chief state economist claimed Thursday.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the announced gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5.9 percent from April to June showed the Philippines' "continued resurgence in economic activities from a moderate growth of 3.6 percent in the same period in 2011."

With its strong second quarter result, the Philippine economy posted growth of 6.1 percent January to June, outperforming most its neighbors, Balisacan said.

"Within the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the Philippine economic growth performance was above the preliminary average growth (4.7%) of the region..." he noted.

The Philippine economy grew faster compared to Malaysia, which posted an expansion of 5.4 percent in the first half; Thailand, 4.2 percent; Vietnam, 4.4 percent; and Singapore, 2 percent.

However, its GDP growth was lower than that of China at 7.8 percent and Indonesia at 6.4 percent.

Bulk of the country's economic growth in the second quarter was due to expansion in the services sector, including the continuously growing business process outsourcing industry, official data showed.

The sector grew by 7.6 percent from April to June, and contributed 4.3 percentage points to the 5.9-percent total GDP growth.

The top contributors to growth in this sector were increased economic activities in transportation, storage and communication; real estate and renting; as well as trade and financial services, among others.

Industry, meanwhile, contributed 1.5 percentage points to the total, growing by 4.6 percent.

This was due to a boom in construction; electricity, gas and water supply; as well as manufacturing. These offset a contraction in mining and quarrying.

Agriculture posted the slowest growth of 0.7 percent in the three-month period, contributing only 0.1 percentage points to the GDP growth.

Balisacan noted that the government expects the Philippine economy to continue growing over the next two quarters.

"We are optimistic that the resiliency of our economy, as reflected by the strong real GDP performance in the two quarters of 2012, will not dissipate in the succeeding quarters despite the uncertainties," the Cabinet official said.

He added that the government is maintaining its full-year growth target of 5 to 6 percent.

This, as he noted that external and internal risks continue to pose threats to the local economy.

"Further weakness of a struggling global economic recovery will remain a strong challenge in the near-term, with the slowdown of China reining in on global growth," Balisacan said.

He also cited the potential impact of an intensification of the euro area problem.

"Another downside risk is the El Niño phenomenon, which, according to experts, will commence on the third quarter of the current year until the first quarter of 2013," Balisacan said.

He added, however, that its impact onthe GDP will be weak to moderate.

Recent weather disturbances which hit the country will also have very small impact, which Balisacan estimated at only 0.5 percent of GDP.

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