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Philippines Emerges as Economic Growth Leader in Southeast Asia Amidst Regional Slowdown

Philippines

Philippines emerges as a frontrunner in economic growth within Southeast Asia, according to the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) recent update of the Asian Development Outlook, unveiled on Wednesday.

The ADB’s report indicates an overall positive shift for developing Asian economies, revising the collective growth forecast for 2023 upward to 4.9 percent. This acceleration is attributed to heightened expectations in both China and India, outpacing the previous forecast of 4.7 percent made in September. The outlook for 2024 remains steady at 4.8 percent.

Notably, the Philippines maintains its strong economic trajectory with a growth rate forecast of 5.7 percent for 2023, making it the top performer in the region. In contrast, the outlook for Vietnam is revised downward to 5.2 percent from the initial projection of 5.8 percent.

The ADB’s adjusted forecast for Vietnam mirrors the recalibration for the Southeast Asian region, which saw a dip from 4.6 percent to 4.3 percent. The ADB attributes this shift to lackluster performance in the manufacturing sector.

ADB Chief Economist Albert Park emphasized the robust growth of developing Asia, despite a challenging global environment. He noted that inflation in the region is gradually coming under control, but risks persist—from elevated global interest rates to climate events like El Niño.

Park urged governments in Asia and the Pacific to remain vigilant, ensuring economic resilience and sustainable growth. The ADB highlighted potential risks, including persistently high-interest rates in advanced economies, contributing to financial instability in vulnerable regional economies, particularly those with high debt.

External factors such as the El Niño weather pattern or the Russian invasion of Ukraine are also identified as potential risks, with the capacity to rekindle inflation, especially in food and energy.

In the Philippines, November’s headline inflation slowed for the second consecutive month, settling at 4.1 percent, nearing the upper limit of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) target rate of two to four percent. The BSP attributes this moderation to easing supply-side price pressures and negative base effects.

Despite this, the Monetary Board underscores the need to maintain sufficiently tight monetary policy settings until a sustained downward trend in inflation becomes evident, emphasizing the importance of economic stability amidst evolving global and regional challenges.

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