Reporter’s notebook: Philippine economy remains one of fastest growing in Asia

Global Business

In the third quarter of this year, the Philippine economy slowed to its weakest pace in more than five years. However, it remains one of the best-performing and most promising in Asia. CCTV America’s Barnaby Lo reported this story from Manila.

In 2014, the Philippines hosted the World Economic Forum on East Asia. In 2015, it will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. The country seems to be basking under the global spotlight as its economy continues to be one of Asia’s fastest-growing. Despite a slowdown in the last quarter, it’s had 11 straight quarters of unprecedented growth above five percent.

President Benigno Aquino’s anti-corruption platform is widely credited for being able to bring back investor confidence. The stock market has been performing well and the service sector, particularly the call center industry, keeps expanding. But it’s the billions of dollars of remittances from Filipino workers overseas that remains the country’s economic backbone. All this is creating a new middle class with purchasing power foreign investors seem to be recognizing.

The American Eagle Outfitters store is just one of several U.S. retailers who recently opened in Manila. And Swedish fashion giant H&M, Japanese budget clothing brand Uniqlo and even luxury cars like Lamborghini and Porsche are all now present in the Philippines. The surge in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the country’s economy, is what economists believed will sustain economic growth even if investments slow down.

The Philippine capital of Manila is undergoing the biggest upgrade to its road network in decades. However, there is a general feeling that the country’s infrastructure is still very much lagging behind. And that it’s unable to meet the needs of both a booming economy and a rapidly-growing population. There is a lack of an efficient public transport system.

Experts said the economy losses billions of dollars each year because of traffic jams, outdated airports and overstretched ports. The Philippines also pays one of the most expensive electricity rates in Asia. All of this, as it’s still recovering from last year’s Super Typhoon Haiyan and continues to face the threat of natural disasters.