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World Bank sees steady growth for PH

Cites stable fundamentals, big working-age population

Philippine economic growth is expected to hold steady until 2017 as the country continues to enjoy the fruits of its big working-age population and stable fundamentals, the World Bank said Thursday.

Cheap fuel prices and strong recovery by major trading partners such as the United States and Japan would give the Philippines a welcome boost, helping the country recover from its weak first-quarter performance, the Washington-based multilateral lender said in its Global Economic Prospects report.

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As a result, the Philippines would continue to lead Southeast Asia’s largest markets in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) growth, the World Bank said.

“Growth in the Philippines is projected to remain strong, benefiting from a recovery in Japan and from low fuel prices,” the Bank said.

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For all of 2015, growth is seen reaching 6.5 percent, better than last year’s 6.1 percent. The World Bank maintained its forecast made in January. Growth will remain at 6.5 percent in 2016 before slightly tapering off to 6.3 percent the year after.

The projections for 2015 and 2016 are below the national government’s targets of up to 8 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively.

Asia Pacific as a whole is seen growing at a steady pace, with the region leading the rest of the world in terms of performance.

Domestic demand, especially consumption, remains the main driver of regional growth. Lower fuel prices, dynamic capital and labor markets, robust inflows of remittances and capital, and accommodative monetary policies boosted growth in 2014, the World Bank said.

This year, the region will grow by 6.7 percent, driven largely by the Chinese economy, which is seen expanding north of 7 percent. Excluding the regional heavyweight, growth numbers go down to 4.9 percent this year and 5.4 percent in 2016 and 2017.

Growth for the global economy is projected at 2.8 percent in 2015, 3.3 percent in 2016, and 3.2 percent in 2017.

Projections for the Philippines are better than most of its neighbors. Indonesia would grow at a more modest 4.7 percent in 2015, Thailand’s would clock in at 3.5 percent while Malaysia’s economy would expand 4.7 percent, the World Bank forecasts showed.

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