Since the end of World War II, the Philippine economy has been on an unfortunate trajectory, going from one of the richest countries in Asia (following Japan) to one of the poorest. Growth immediately after the war was rapid, but slowed over time. Years of economic mismanagement and political volatility during the Marcos regime contributed to economic stagnation and resulted in macroeconomic instability. A severe recession from 1984 through 1985 saw the economy shrink by more than 10%, and perceptions of political instability during the Aquino administration further dampened economic activity.
During the 1990s, the Philippine Government introduced a broad range of economic reforms designed to spur business growth and foreign investment. As a result, the Philippines saw a period of higher growth, although the Asian financial crisis in 1997 slowed Philippine economic development once again.
Despite occasional challenges to her presidency and resistance to pro-liberalization reforms by vested interests, President Arroyo made considerable progress in restoring macroeconomic stability with the help of a well-regarded economic team. Nonetheless, long-term economic growth remains threatened by crumbling infrastructure and education systems, and trade and investment barriers. International competitiveness rankings have slipped.
The service sector contributes more than half of overall Philippine economic output, followed by industry (about a third), and agriculture (less than 20%). Important industries include food processing; textiles and garments; electronics and automobile parts; and business process outsourcing. Most industries are concentrated in the urban areas around metropolitan Manila. Mining also has great potential in the Philippines, which possesses significant reserves of chromate, nickel, and copper. Significant natural gas finds off the islands of Palawan have added to the country's substantial geothermal, hydro, and coal energy reserves. Today's Economy
The Philippine economy seems comparatively well-equipped to weather the global financial crisis in the short term, partly as a result of the efforts over the past few years to control the fiscal deficit, bring down debt ratios, and adopt internationally-accepted banking sector capital adequacy standards. The Philippine banking sector--which comprises 80% of total financial system resources--has limited direct exposure to distressed financial institutions overseas (i.e., $2 billion, less than 2% of aggregate banking system assets). Conservative regulatory policies, including the prohibition of investments in structured products, shielded the insurance sector from exposure to distressed financial firms. While direct financial exposure to problematic investments and financial institutions is limited, the impact of external shocks to economic growth, poverty alleviation, employment, remittances, credit availability, and overall investment prospects is a concern.
GDP grew by 7.3% in 2007, the fastest annual pace of growth in over three decades--fueled by increased government and private construction expenditures; a robust information communications technology industry; improved post-drought agricultural harvests; and strong private consumption, spurred in part by $14.4 billion in remittances from overseas workers (equivalent to about 10% of GDP). However, real year-on-year GDP growth slowed to 3.8% during 2008, reflecting the impact of high food and fuel prices and global financial uncertainties on the domestic economy. Overseas workers’ remittances--which increased 13.7% year-on-year in 2008 to a new $16.4 billion record--helped cushion the impact of external shocks on economic growth, but began to slow during 2008’s fourth quarter. Remittances are expected to grow 3%-4% in 2009 despite the global financial crisis, helping the economy avoid recession and supporting the balance of payments and international reserves. Most independent forecasts also...