ADB raises growth forecasts for PH

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) raised its forecast for the Philippines's GDP expansion this year to 6.7 percent, although Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said this is just "the minimum" growth the government is now expecting given the economy's performance thus far.

In a supplement to its Asian Development Outlook Update 2017 report, released Wednesday, ADB upgraded its 2017 gross domestic product growth outlook to 6% this year from 5.9%.

"Developing Asia's growth momentum, supported by recovering exports, demonstrates that openness to trade remains an essential component of inclusive economic development", Yasuyuki Sawada, ADB's chief economist, said.

The bank's latest GDP projection for this year is within the government's 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent target range, but next year's revised forecast is still below the 7 percent to 8 percent goal.

ADB's forecast is higher than the 6.6% projection of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

"Lackluster investment growth in heavy industries with excess capacity will be only partly offset by strong investment in less capital-intensive emerging industries, consumer oriented industries and services", the bank said.

India is seen expanding by 7.3% next year, slightly lower than initially forecast, as higher crude oil prices could add fiscal pressures to the region's second-largest economy and investment growth is expected to remain soft, the report said.

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ADB likewise hiked its growth projections for developing asia this year to six percent from 5.9 percent in September but retained its growth forecast of 5.9 percent for 2018.

The bank added that private consumption aided by benign inflation has provided strong support to most subregional economies, including the Philippines, in 2017.

The sub-region is benefiting from stronger investments and exports, with accelerating growth for Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Gross fixed investment more than tripled its growth rate over previous year with the implementation of several large projects in the service and manufacturing sectors and higher spending by public corporations, driving double-digit growth in imports.

Recovery in agriculture and stronger manufacturing led to a 5.3 percent growth in the last fiscal year of 2016/17. The projection for 2018 was kept unchanged at 5.8 percent.

Other reasons, ADB said, included a positive net exports growth in the January-to-September period and robust business-process outsourcing, finance and real-estate services growth, which accounts for almost 60 percent of Philippine GDP.

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