MANILA, Philippines - The economy may grow 6.7 to 6.8 percent this year, supported by rising consumption during the Christmas season as well as record high merchandise exports, a Trade official said.
Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio told reporters that “for the whole year, we believe we will average something like 6.7 to 6.8-percent GDP (gross domestic product) bottom line that will make us either second or third only to China in terms of economic growth.”
The economy expanded by 7.1 percent in the third quarter, bringing the nine-month tally to 6.5 percent.
To achieve the 6.7 to 6.8-percent growth for the year, Panlilio said, the economy will have to grow at those rates in the fourth quarter.
As consumers are expected to spend more during the Christmas season, he is confident the economy could expand by that much.
Panlilio said merchandise exports which are expected to hit record high this year, will also support economic growth in the fourth quarter.
“I am confident our exports would pick up even more, so much so that we will break the all-time high,” he said.
He said earlier the country’s merchandise exports are expected to reach a record-high of $52 to $53 billion by year-end given growth in non-electronic products and as a surge in shipments of housewares, furniture, giftwares and food is usually seen in December.
Merchandise exports reached a $51.498 billion record in 2010 and fell to $47.967 billion last year.
As of end-October, merchandise exports were valued at $44.475 billion, up 7.1 percent from the same period a year ago.
Even as typhoon Pablo damaged certain areas in Mindanao and is seen to have an impact on agricultural output, Panlilio said the economy can still post high growth in the fourth quarter as the government spends for relief work.
“It (typhoon Pablo) will have an effect definitely on agriculture but at the same time, we are allocating something like P8 billion for relief goods, relief work, which will be part of government spending, (and) wouldn’t have been spent if there was no tragedy,” he said.
“There would be less productivity there but the government will offset it with relief,” he said further.
Apart from strong economic growth seen for the year, he also said the Department of Trade and Industry expects to end the year with a total of 32 in-bound missions.
An in-bound mission involves five or more companies or businessmen visiting the country at the same time to look at opportunities.
Panlilio said that as of October, the government has received 25 in-bound missions.