Manila: The Philippines’ economy expanded by 6.4 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023, authorities said on Thursday.
Head of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Dennis Mapa said the gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first three months was the slowest since the country started to recover from the pandemic in the second quarter of 2021, reports Xinhua news agency.
Major economic sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, and fishing; industry; and services, all posted positive growths with 2.2 per cent, 3.9 per cent, and 8.4 per cent, respectively, Mapa told a news conference.
National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the quarter’s growth figure is lower than the 8 per cent year-on-year growth rate in the first quarter of 2022.
“We need to exercise caution in interpreting this as a slowdown since the previous year’s growth came from a low base,” Balisacan said at the press conference.
“The Philippine economy is normalizing its previous trend. The better-than-expected first-quarter performance this year implies that we are returning to our high-growth trajectory despite various challenges and headwinds we have faced,” he added.
The Southeast Asian country has set its GDP target for 2023 at 6 to 7 per cent.
Balisacan said the government must remain vigilant as high inflation remains a challenge.
The headline inflation rate “appears to have reached its highest point, decelerating to 6.6 per cent in April from 7.6 per cent in March and 8.6 percent in February”, he added.
Other risks impacting the GDP growth targets include the El Nino phenomenon, animal diseases such as African swine fever and avian flu, as well as geopolitical tensions.
“We also stand ready to respond to the shocks and risks to our growth outlook, both domestic and external, foreseen and unforeseen,” Balisacan said.
According to the top official, the Philippine economic outlook “in the near and medium term remains solid despite various risks and challenges”.
The Philippines’ GDP expanded by 7.6 per cent in 2022, 5.7 per cent in 2021 after its economy contracted 9.6 per cent in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.