Philippines economy seen growing at fastest pace in region

PHOTO: The Straits Times

The Philippines is likely to grow at the fastest pace among key Southeast Asian economies this year and next while the regional bloc as a whole continues to evolve into a fertile ground for investors, regional investment powerhouse Maybank Kim Eng Group said.

Maybank Kim Eng, which shared its macroeconomic outlook in a briefing during the "Invest ASEAN" forum in Singapore on Tuesday, expects its six core markets in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN-6) to grow by an average 4.8 per cent compared to 4.6 per cent last year.

Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam comprise ASEAN-6.

"ASEAN continues to grow and has momentum," said Maybank Kim Eng chief executive Dato John Chong Chong, adding that the momentum would be driven by trade recovery, rebound in commodity prices and improving global electronics demand.

Next year, the investment house expects ASEAN-6 to sustain an average growth rate of 5.3 per cent.

In the case of the Philippines, Maybank Kim Eng expects gross domestic product (GDP) growth to remain strong at 6.4 per cent this year and 6.5 per cent in 2018, outperforming the projected regional average.

The domestic economy grew by 6.8 per cent last year, although this included an extraordinary boost from the presidential elections.

Within ASEAN-6, the Philippines is seen to post the fastest pace of growth this year and next, followed by Vietnam, which is seen to grow by 6.3 per cent this year and 6.2 per cent in 2018.

Maybank Kim Eng expects Indonesia and Thailand to grow by 5.1 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively, this year and by 5.3 per cent and 4.5 per cent in 2018.

Malaysia is seen to grow by 4.4 per cent this year and 4.5 per cent next year while Singapore is projected to expand by a modest 2.5 per cent this year and 2.3 per cent in 2018.