Philippine economy to double in next decade: think-tank

The Philippine economy will more than double in the next decade as earnings from overseas workers and business outsourcing surge, a respected US-based think-tank said Monday. Once the region's perennial economic laggard, the Southeast Asian country is poised to stage a major comeback to be one of the top three economies in the region by 2030, forecast Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist for IHS. "(The) Philippines economy has undergone a remarkable transition from a pussycat into a tiger economy over the last decade," he said in a statement issued ahead of the holding of the World Economic Forum on East Asia meeting in Manila this week. "The Philippine economy has the capacity for robust long-term economic growth of around 4.5 percent to 5.0 percent per year over the 2016 to 2030 time horizon," the report said. The economy will grow from its present level of about $280 billion to $680 billion by 2024, "with a projected GDP of $1.2 trillion by 2030," he added. He cited the strong growth of remittances from the estimated 10 million Filipinos working overseas as well as the local business process outsourcing industry, which has surged in the past decade. But Biswas also warned that in order to sustain economic growth, the Philippines will have to improve conditions to attract more investment to the key tourism and manufacturing sectors. He warned that the country still ranked very poorly on the World Bank's ratings for ease of doing business. He also cited government figures showing that despite the rapid growth, one in four Filipinos still lives in poverty while unemployment and underemployment remain serious problems. The Philippines has been one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia in recent years, posting 7.2 percent growth in 2013.