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Country Forecast Philippines March 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Philippines March 2018 Updater

  • March 2018
  • ID: 5370285
  • Format: PDF


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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 campaign and his broader national-security agenda will continue to dominate the policy environment.
  • Prospects for lasting peace in the southern region of Mindanao are remote under Mr Duterte. Martial law has been extended until the end of 2018 so that the military can crack down against communist militants. The Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will provide new rights for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, remains stalled in Congress.
  • The budget balance will stay 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 2.1% of GDP in 2018-22.
  • Consumer price inflation will challenge the upper limit of the target band set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP, the central bank) in the first half of the forecast period. This will result in a gradual tightening of monetary policy from 2018 onwards. The BSP has enough room to manoeuvre, with its policy interest rate still at a record low.
  • Real GDP growth will average 6.2% 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 5.1%. 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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