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PIA Press Release
2007/10/28

IMF says RP has "best performing economy second to Singapore" among ASEAN members

Quezon City (28 October) -- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the economic growth in the Philippines has been "very favorable" and that it believes this positive trend "will continue" as Philippine economic policies have been "broadly appropriate."

In a comparative study, the IMF said the Philippines has the "best performing economy second to Singapore among the Association of Asian Nations (Asean) members."

In an IMF press briefing in Washington D.C. last Oct. 17 on the World Economic Outlook's (WEO) Global Forecast Chapters, Timothy Callen, the IMF's World Economic Studies Division Chief, stressed, thus:

"Clearly the background is that growth in the Philippines has been very favorable.

"After a period of higher inflation, the inflation has come down and the central bank has been able to ease policy. I think the baseline scenario we have is that that will continue."

In the IMF press briefing that also featured Simon Johnson, Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF's Research Department; and Charles Collyns, Deputy Director of the Research Department, Callen explained further:

"Clearly, there are some risks to the downside in terms of the global environment. Exports were somewhat affected in August as electronic exports declined, so I think at the moment what we see is policies broadly appropriate in the Philippines.

"Clearly with foreign exchange inflows coming in, one of the messages that Charles (Collyns) has already mentioned in one of the analytic chapters, Chapter 3 of this WEO, is that holding the line on fiscal policy is certainly the policy that we see having worked across countries in the past.

"Therefore, we would certainly encourage the (Philippine) government to keep a sound solid fiscal policy as it seeks to deal with these inflows, and then again flexibility in the exchange rate is another message that comes through very clearly in the results of Chapter 3."

The favorable report about the country's economic climate, plus the IMF's recommendations on how to maintain it, came about when a media "questioner" asked about the IMF's "lump(ing) together emerging markets in your analysis, and you mentioned that inflation and overheating economies remain a concern."

The questioner centered on the Philippines, thus: "In the case of the Philippines, inflation is low and at the same time economic growth is robust. Do you not find it interesting and do you think this will be sustainable? That will be my first question.

"My second question is: You also recommended that the government should exercise fiscal restraint to cushion the economy in case the financial turmoil persists.

"In the case of the Philippines, the government has been spending, well, they are pump-priming the economy recently. What do you think of this move? At the same time, they are trying to temper the appreciation of the peso."

To this Callen replied: "Clearly the background is that growth in the Philippines has been very favorable. After a period of higher inflation, the inflation has come down and the central bank has been able to ease policy. I think the baseline scenario we have is that that will continue. Clearly, there are some risks to the downside in terms of the global environment. Exports were somewhat affected in August as electronic exports declined, so I think at the moment what we see is policies broadly appropriate in the Philippines…"

Media was briefed over the course of the week by the IMF's Asia Pacific Department, Western Hemisphere Department, and the African Department on the "specifics of the regional development, (and) regional economic development…" according to William Murray, Chief of Media Relations at the IMF, who led the 2007 Autumn World Economic Outlook global forecasts press briefing.

In the said press briefing, Simon Johnson, Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF's Research Department, gave the following overview:

"The financial turmoil that began this summer has certainly been a test for markets, and the consequent tightening of financial conditions will have an impact on global growth in the coming quarters.

"Led by robust expansions in major emerging market economies, global growth was rapid through the first half of this year and should again surpass 5 percent in 2007.

"But we have marked down our projection for global growth in 2008 by almost half a percentage point to 4.8 percent, in the wake of this recent turmoil. This largely reflects lower growth expectations for advanced economies. Underlying fundamentals remain sound and global growth should remain strong, but I would emphasize that there are serious risks ahead…

"In emerging market and developing countries, growth is expected to remain strong across all regions, albeit at a somewhat more moderate pace than the brisk growth we have seen over the past two years…" (OPS) [top]

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