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Philippines: Stable politically; growing GDP.

At the moment, political stability appears to prevail in the Philippines. The controversial current president did manage to maintain solid support in the May 2007 elections in the Philippines House of Representatives. The Senate vote saw significant opposition gains, but since the House of Representatives controls any impeachment proceedings, the current president is clearly safe for the remaining three years of her term.

There continue to be charges of corrupt election practices, but the number and frequency of electoral irregularity protests has subsided.

Thus, favorable economic news is currently the focus of thinking.

And the news is, in fact, quite favorable. A September 7, 2007 report from the Philippine Senate Economic Planning Office leads with the following: "The Philippine economy turned in its best performance in nearlytwo decades when it posted impressive GDP growth rates of 7.1 percent in the first quarter of 2007 and 7.5 percent in the second quarter."

Some commentary reviewed for this piece, however, disputes the validity of these impressive growth figures saying that government spending ahead of the May 2007 elections was intended to influence the outcome. This is a common ploy in many of the word's economies. The difference in the Philippines is that the practice is notably egregious.

Nonetheless, Philippine consumers are doing better than ever. Inflation is low. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its August 2007 estimates, says that growth in the rate of Philippine inflation will be only 3.0 percent in 2007 compared with 6.2 percent in 2006 and 7.6 percent in 2007.

Remittances from Filipinos working abroad are up significantly. Personal consumption increased 6.0 percent in the second quarter 2007 compared with 5.4 percent in the same period in 2006.

Retail sales increased 8.8 percent in the first quarter 2007 compared with 5.3 percent in the same 2006 period. Second quarter retail sales growth was 8.4 percent compared with 5.0 percent for the 2006 period. Interesting fact: The three biggest shopping malls in the world are located in metropolitan Manila.

REFORM NEEDS TO MOVE AT A QUICKER PACE IN THE PHILIPPINES

The population growth rate for Philippines is above the regional average, due in part to a birth rate of 27 per thousand inhabitants, which is above the average of 21 per thousand for Southeast Asia. Job creation has not kept up with growth of the labor force in recent years, but it is likely that the situation will improve further in 2007. Unemployment is running about 7.4 percent. Underemployment is 18.9 percent.

Philippines's population reached 89-million people mid-2007, which amounted to just under 16 percent of Southeast Asia's 574-million inhabitants. According to data released by the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), Philippines's population will reach 120-million by 2025. Also, according to that source, Philippines is going to have a population of 150-million people in 2050.

The PRB revealed that 48 percent of the Philippines population lived in urban areas during 2007, and that the country's population density is a comparatively high 749 people per square mile. The Philippines is almost exactly the same size as Italy in land area, but The Philippines has half again as many residents.The CIA's World Factbook, indicates that 35 percent of Philippines's population was birth to 14 years old in 2006, while 61 percent was 15 to 64 years old, and 4 percent of the populace was 65 years of age and over.

The CIA estimates that the country's population growth rate was 1.76 percent in 2007. According to the United Nations Population Division, in the year 2050, 20 percent of Philippines's population will be birth to 14 years old, while 60 percent will be aged 15 to 59, and 20 percent of the populace will be 60 years of age and over.
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Publication:Market Asia Pacific
Date:Nov 1, 2007
Words:634
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