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Philippines sees economy improving this quarter as curbs eased

Plastic dividers separate customers enjoying a meal in a restaurant in Binondo, Manila yesterday. Russell Palma. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MANILA, Nov 9, 2020, Bloomberg. The Philippines sees growth picking up in the current quarter after virus restrictions were eased, even as data due Tuesday is likely to show the economy continued to contract in the three months through September, The Business Times reported.

The government expects its move last month to loosen curbs on movement and reopen more businesses “will have a better impact” on output in the final three months of the year, Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said Monday.

“The reality is that we will be living with the virus for some time,” Mr Chua said at a virtual forum. Economic managers see lockdowns as a last resort to contain South-east Asia’s second-worst coronavirus outbreak, he said.

The Philippines is set to release third-quarter gross domestic product data Tuesday, with a 9.6 per cent contraction expected, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 20 economists. The government expects the economy to shrink as much as 6.6 per cent this year.

Revised data Monday from the country’s statistics agency showed the economy contracted more than initially thought in the second quarter – down 16.9 per cent year-on-year, rather than the 16.5 per cent decline first reported. The real estate sector fell 29.7 per cent, compared with the 20.1 per cent drop in the preliminary data.

Manila’s economy – which accounts for almost one-third of the country’s total output – is already 65 per cent open, but further reopening is hampered by limited public transport, Mr Chua said. It won’t help to continue easing movement restrictions unless employees have a way to get to work, he added.

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