What are the benefits of a weaker peso?

by Kathleen A. Martin, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jun 25 2013 03:46 PM | Updated as of Jun 26 2013 06:06 PM

MANILA -- The peso's continued decline against the greenback is a good thing for local industries, exporters and families dependent on overseas Filipino workers, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said Tuesday.

"Our local industries would really benefit from the recovery of the [local currency]... that is good for our competitiveness. By the way, it's not only good for exports, but even for our local industries which are competing with imports because imports now [have] become [more] expensive than local [products], so there would be more local production and that will create jobs," Balisacan said.

He added the weakening peso per dollar will also increase the purchasing power of OFW-dependent families that will also help spur consumer spending, and in turn, drive economic growth.

The Philippine peso appreciated more than 6% in 2012 to P41.05 to a dollar, but the local currency has gone back to P43-to-a-dollar territory earlier this month.

The peso's fall this week was owed to the US Federal Reserve's statement that it will decrease stimulus due an improving US economy. That has resulted in a sell-off in emerging markets as investors return their funds to the US.

Amid concerns that a weaker currency may cause commodity prices to increase, Balisacan stressed the Philippines' strong macroeconomic fundamentals can reduce any spike in inflation.

"As long as our macroeconomic fundamentals are strong, that will eventually lead to higher production and higher productivity, our agriculture sector, for example, will respond strongly to the higher peso, our manufacturing industries, [too], so the [inflationary] pressure... could be tamed," Balisacan said.

Besides, he added, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is monitoring any inflationary concerns so as to keep the rate within the central bank target of 3% to 5% this year.

Balisacan reiterated the government is hoping to grow the economy by 6% to 7% this year, although that number may still be revised upward given the strong 7.8% expansion seen in the first quarter.

"We are looking at the numbers. We are still doing the tech work," he said.

Last year, the Philippine economy grew by a faster-than-expected 6.8%, surpassing government and market expectations.