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Philippine GDP growth seen at 6.5-7pc in Q1

MANILA: The Philippine economy is expected to expand between 6.5 and 7.0 per cent in the first quarter or faster, the economic planning minister said, putting the government on track to meet its full-year target.

The Southeast Asian economy is among the world’s fastest growing with gross domestic product expanding by 6.8 per cent in 2016, a three-year high.  Robust consumption and increased infrastructure spending, which spurred last year’s growth, continued to fuel economic activity, Philippines Economic Planning Minister Ernesto Pernia (pictured)  said.

They should also bolster the country’s defences against any economic fallout from Brexit, potential protectionist measures in the United States and divergent monetary policies around the world, Pernia said.

“First quarter growth will be in the neighbourhood of 6.5-7.0 per cent, maybe even more,” he said.

The government has pledged to raise infrastructure spending to 5.2 per cent of GDP this year from the projected 5 per cent of GDP last year.

Pernia expects exports to perform better this year after declining 4.4 per cent in 2016, as the government anticipates increased demand from China and Russia.

President Rodrigo Duterte has carried out a stunning U-turn in the Philippines’ foreign policy since assuming office last year, aggressively pursuing tighter business and defence ties with China and Russia and weaning the country off dependence on longtime ally the United States.

“China is ramping up its importation of (Philippine) products and Russia said it will increase its demand for agriculture products,” Pernia said.  China said it signed $1.74 billion worth of contracts to import Philippine products, such as fruits and lumber, during Vice Premier Wang Yang’s recent trip to Manila. — Reuters

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