- About the Philippines
- The Filipino People
- The Economy
- Why Visit the Country?
- When to Visit
- Entering the Country
- Moving Around the Islands
The Philippine economy is the 47th largest in the world, with an estimated 2008 gross domestic product (GDP nominal) of over US$ 166.9 billion (nominal).
Primary exports include semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil, and fruits. Major trading partners include China, Japan, the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia. Its unit of currency is the Philippine peso (PHP).
The Philippines is a newly industrialized country and Goldman Sachs includes the country in its list of the “Next Eleven” economies. The country has a labor force of around 38.1 million. The agricultural sector employs close to 32% of workers but contributes to only about 13.8% of GDP. The industrial sector employs around 13.7% of the workforce and accounts for 30% of GDP. Meanwhile the 46.5% of workers involved in the services sector are responsible for 56.2% of GDP.
The unemployment rate as of July 2009 stands at around 7.6% and due to the global economic slowdown inflation as of September 2009 reads 0.70%. Foreign currency reserves as of October 2009 are US$ 36.13 billion. In 2004, public debt as a percentage of GDP was estimated to be 74.2%; in 2008, 56.9%. Gross external debt has risen to US$ 66.27 billion. The country is a net importer.
In the 1960s, the country was regarded as the second wealthiest in Asia, next to Japan. However, the leadership of Ferdinand Marcos proved disastrous by gradually transforming the market economy into one with aspects of a centrally planned economy. The country suffered from slow economic growth and bouts of economic recession. Only in the 1990s with a program of economic liberalization did the economy begin to recover.
The Asian Financial Crisis affected the economy, resulting in a lingering decline of the value of the peso and falls in the stock market, although the extent to which it was affected was not as severe as that of some of its Asian neighbors. This was largely due to the fiscal conservatism of the government, partly as a result of decades of monitoring and fiscal supervision from the International Monetary Fund, in comparison to the massive spending of its neighbors on the rapid acceleration of economic growth. By 2004, the economy experienced six percent growth in GDP and 7.3% in 2007, its fastest pace of growth in three decades. Yet the daily income for 45% of the population of the Philippines remains less than US$ 2.
Photo courtesy of Legend Hotels
The Philippine economy is heavily reliant on remittances which surpass foreign direct investment as a source of foreign currency. Regional development is somewhat uneven with Luzon—Metro Manila in particular—gaining most of the new economic growth at the expense of the other regions, although the government has taken steps to distribute economic growth by promoting investment in other areas of the country. Despite constraints, service industries such as tourism and business process outsourcing have been identified as areas with some of the best opportunities for growth for the country. However, China and India have emerged as major economic competitors.
The Philippines is a member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asian Development Bank which is headquartered in Mandaluyong City, the Colombo Plan, and the G-77 among other groups and institutions.