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Philippines posts record economic growth

MANILA, January 31, 2011 (AFP) – The Philippine economy expanded by 7.3 percent last year, the highest since democracy was restored to the country more than two decades ago, the government said Monday.

Growth domestic product (GDP) growth in the last three months of 2010 also surpassed expectations to reach 7.1 percent, the National Statistical Coordination Board said.

The global economic recovery played a big part in the strong performance by helping to boost exports and revive key industries, while better weather towards the end of the year helped the struggling farming sector, it said.

“The global economic recovery which resulted in record growth rates of foreign trade… contributed to an economic performance in 2010 that well surpassed the government’s target of 5.0 percent to 6.0 percent,” it said.

The 7.3 percent full-year GDP expansion was the highest since at least 1986, when dictator Ferdinand Marcos was toppled in a peaceful revolution, the board added.

The strong growth came during a period of peaceful political transition for the Philippines, as Benigno Aquino easily won presidential elections in May last year and succeeded Gloria Arroyo as the nation’s leader the next month.

The economy grew by just 0.9 percent in 2009, its lowest in 11 years, as the Philippines struggled amid the global financial crisis.

Renewed global demand for Philippine exports allowed industrial growth to accelerate to 8.3 percent in the final quarter of 2010, up from 3.8 percent during the same period the previous year, it said in a statement.

The agriculture sector rebounded to grow by 5.4 percent in the final three months of the year after storms and drought led to negative growth in the previous four consecutive quarters, it said.

The government agency said businesses were investing more in durable equipment, which boded well for future economic growth prospects, although it did not give a GDP forecast for this year.

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