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The Philippine economy became the fastest in Asia despite slower expansion pace in the final three months of the year, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said yesterday.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.6 percent in October to December, slower compared with 7.0 percent in the previous quarter, and 6.9 percent in the first-semester in 2016, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.

The fourth-quarter GDP brought the country’s full-year economic growth to 6.8 percent, the fastest since 2013, and placing at the higher-end of the government’s 6.0 percent to 7.0 percent target range.

PRESIDENTIAL DOWNTIME – On the plane en route to Davao City following visits to Tacloban City and Lapu-Lapu City on Wednesday, President Duterte finds a few moments to relax and read a copy of Manila Bulletin. (King Rodriguez/Malacañang photo  | Manila Bulletin)
PRESIDENTIAL DOWNTIME – On the plane en route to Davao City following visits to Tacloban City and Lapu-Lapu City on Wednesday, President Duterte finds a few moments to relax and read a copy of Manila Bulletin. (King Rodriguez/Malacañang photo | Manila Bulletin)


The full-year expansion of China is 6.7 percent, while Vietnam’s is 6.2 percent.

According to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, the growth was driven by higher investment and consumer spending, while the slowdown was due to the transition of government.

Pernia also said investors adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude during the October to December period, noting “last quarter growth of an election year is usually slower than the first half.”

Still, Pernia said the country’s expansion last year was a testament that the economy remained robust and is growing at a healthy and steady pace.

The 2016 growth also brought the country’s seven-year moving average of real GDP growth rate to 6.3 percent, the highest since 1978.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella welcomed the country’s strong GDP growth and voiced confidence this could be sustained “in the long run.”

“The last quarter of an election year is usually weak with the government transition. However, in our case, it has actually improved,” Abella said in a Palace news conference.

The latest economic figure is “a testament that our economy remains robust and is growing at a healthy and steady rate,” Abella added.

“Overall, we believe that the target of 6.5, 7.5 for 2017 is highly likely and that our strong economic performance is likely to be sustainable in the long run,” he said.

For this year and beyond, Pernia is confident that the economy will continue to grow at a robust pace, noting “the 6.5 to 7.5 percent target [for this year] is highly likely. After 2017, we expect growth to expand further by 7 to 8 percent.”

He identified risks to the country’s growth, including typhoons and extreme weather events like policy shifts overseas, especially in the United States.

Under the Duterte administration plan, the government seeks to grow the economy by 50 percent in real terms during its six years in office to lift six million people from poverty and bring the Philippines to upper middle income status.


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