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Country Forecast Philippines January 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Philippines January 2018 Updater

  • January 2018
  • ID: 5300724
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • The president, Rodrigo Duterte, will complete his constitutionally mandated single six-year term in office, but his position is not unassailable. Party lines are fluid in the Philippines, and the backing Mr Duterte currently enjoys in Congress (the legislature) will be tested in the run-up to the 2019 mid-term elections.

  • The president's controversial anti-crime efforts and his broader national-security agenda will continue to dominate the policy environment. The prospects for long-term peace and stability in Mindanao, where the government has long been fighting an Islamist insurgency, remain bleak. The imposition of martial law alone will not be enough to solve the region's security issues.
  • Divisive and populist, Mr Duterte has made several controversial statements, some of which have tested ties with key foreign partners in the West as well as the traditionally pro-US political elite at home. His anti-West rhetoric will continue to make the Philippines' traditional allies nervous. However, it will open the door for the country's ties with China to develop, despite the nations' territorial disputes in the South China Sea, which will not be resolved in 2018-22.
  • The budget balance will remain in deficit throughout 2018-22 as the government increases spending on infrastructure and essential social services; the administration has raised the cap on the fiscal shortfall to the equivalent of 3% of GDP, from 2% previously. The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that the deficit will remain below this cap, however, averaging the equivalent of 2.3% of GDP in 2018-22.
  • The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP, the central bank) will look to "normalise" monetary policy gradually from 2018 onwards, in part to limit inflationary risks stemming from the weakening peso. The BSP has enough room to manoeuvre, with its benchmark policy rate still at a record low.
  • Real GDP growth will average 6% a year in 2018-22. Private consumption will remain a key pillar of economic expansion during this period, growing at an average annual rate of 5.8%. Investment growth will moderate compared with the historical period, to an average of 6.4% a year, as businesses adopt a more cautious approach because of Mr Duterte's erratic style of governance.
  • In recent years the trade deficit has widened considerably on the back of strong domestic demand for imported goods, pushing the current-account balance into the red in 2016-17. Although we expect this trend to moderate over the coming years, the Philippines' current-account balance will record only a minor surplus on average in 2018-22, at the equivalent of 0.3% of GDP.

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