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Philippines

Philippines

Population 97.484 million
GDP 272.207 US$ billion
A4
Country risk assessment
B
Business Climate
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Synthesis

MAJOR MACRO ECONOMIC INDICATORS

  2011 2012 2013 2014(f)
GDP growth (%) 3.6 6.8 7.2 6.5
Inflation (yearly average) (%) 4.7 3.2 2.9 4.4
Budget balance (% GDP) -2.0 -2.4 -2.1 -2.1
Current account balance (% GDP) 3.2 2.9 3.5 3.2
Public debt (% GDP) 41.4 40.6 38.3 35.2

 

(f) Forecast

STRENGTHS

  • Economy reputed for its electronics industry (over 40% of exports).
  • Constant growth in exports from the country to emerging Asia: these represented over 50% of exports in 2012.
  • Household consumption and external accounts benefit from expatriate workers’ remittances
  • Thriving business process outsourcing (BPO) sector

WEAKNESSES

  • Low level of investment, especially in infrastructure
  • Governance shortcomings
  • Social inequalities and demographic growth affect economic performance

RISK ASSESSMENT

 

Resilient growth

In 2014, growth stabilizes at a high level. The country’s main growth driver is still household consumption (70% of GDP) and investment, both public and private. This is because strong growth in credit and expatriates’ remittances help sustain domestic demand. The recovery in the Euro-Zone and the strength of the US economy also support exports which will benefit the business processing outsourcing (BPO) sector, which represents 25% of exports. Construction, financial intermediation and property will also grow rapidly. However, in November 2013 the country was hit by a powerful typhoon (Haiyan) which ravaged the centre of the country. This typhoon have slightly affected growth in 2013, it has had a negative impact the GDP growth in the first quarter of 2014. Agricultural sector grew by only 1.5% year on year. Besides, tourism and insurance sector were also affected. However, GDP growth rebounded in the second quarter 2014 reaching 6.4% YoY thanks to improved performance of the manufacturing sector linked to the increase of exports. Services were also still dynamic and private consumption growth remained robust. Construction sector have decreased but major work are needed to reconstruct the damaged areas and this infrastructure spending is expected to impact positively on growth this year, especially as the country’s public finances are sound and will allow the government to easily finance the works. However, in recent years the Philippines government has often found it difficult to implement major infrastructure projects.

Regarding prices, inflation is rising to 4.9% in August 2014 but it is still within the government's target rate of 3–5% for this year. Nonetheless, the risk of a more marked rise in prices associated with the typhoon’s impact on agricultural production cannot be ruled out, as food represents almost 40% of the prices index. As a reminder, after the Fengshen typhoon in 2008, inflation reached 8%.

 

The country’s financial position remains very solid

The macro-economic fundamentals of The Philippines have improved substantially in recent years. With regard to public finances, the fiscal deficit has been falling constantly. Nonetheless, construction spending will push the deficit up slightly in2014. Inthis context of a weak deficit and sustained GDP growth, public debt is expected to continue falling in 2014.

 

The external financial position also remains favourable. What guarantees the stability of the Philippines’ external accounts are the transfers by expatriate workers (8.4% ok GDP). These accounts have proved particularly robust during the crisis and the current account balance has posted a structural surplus each year. These transfers are even expected to rise in 2014, as the expatriate members of the families affected by the typhoon will probably increase the volume of funds sent. Exports of services (particularly business process outsourcing) have also been trending upwards in recent years and this will continue in 2014. The Philippines will thus continue to post a current account surplus. In this context, foreign exchange reserves will remain at a very satisfactory level (81 bn USD as of August 2014).

 

2014, a pivotal year for President Aquino

Following his landslide victory in the 2010 presidential elections, Benigno Aquino (Liberal party) strengthened the position of his coalition in the May 2013 mid-term elections. Nevertheless his popularity has suffered following Typhoon Haiyan. The effectiveness of the government’s response has been criticized. Besides parts of his a flagship piece of legislation has been declared unconstitutional in July 2014 and an impeachment procedure was submitted before the congress in September. Regarding the weakness of the vote against B. Aquino, he should complete his term.

 

During the election campaign of 2010, Aquino won voters over by focusing his campaign on improving governance and its positive impact on the economy. But despite this expressed desire on the part of the president, the country is still suffering from major issues surrounding corruption. Shortcomings also persist in terms of respect for the law and quality of regulation. One of the president’s aims during his time in office is also to reduce poverty and inequalities.

 

President Aquino has achieved a significant political victory regarding internal political stability. In October 2012, the Philippines government reached a peace agreement with the rebel movement that had been calling, for 40 years, for an independent Islamic State on the Island of Mindanao. It was confirmed by an agreement on the law creating a new self-governing region. The proposed legislation has now to be approved by the Congress.

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