Philippine economy posts 7% growth in 3rd quarter

The Philippine economy grew 7.0 percent during the third quarter of 2013 as the services sector was pumped up by robust performance in real estate and rental activities, trade, and financial intermediation, officials said Thursday.

Although lower than last year's 7.3 percent growth, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the Philippine performance for the quarter is much stronger than the rest of Southeast Asia and second only to China among Asian countries.

"Within Asia, we are still one of the best performing economies," Balisacan said.

National Statistical Coordination Board Secretary General Jose Ramon Albert said the growth boosted the first nine months' growth this year to 7.4 percent from 6.7 percent last year.

The industry sector, which includes manufacturing and construction, grew 8.2 percent, the services sector, which includes real estate, renting and business activities' financial intermediation, trade, transportation, storage and communication, among others, posted 7.5 percent growth.

Agriculture and related industries grew 0.3 percent owing to the tropical cyclones that hit the Philippines in the past few months, Albert said.

Rice, banana and coffee, in particular, declined, while fishing had 1.1 percent growth.

On the demand side, Albert said growth came from increased investments in fixed capital reinforced by consumer and government spending and robust growth in external trade.

Although the government estimates a negative 0.3-0.8 percent impact from supertyphoon Haiyan, which swept through the country's central regions Nov. 8, to fourth quarter GDP, Balisacan remains optimistic the 6-7 percent growth target during the last three months will still be achieved.

"Given that the economy was moving at a sustained momentum, we are actually expecting that growth in the fourth quarter would also hit 6 to 7 percent. So, we would still expect the GDP for the full year to come close to 7 percent, assuming there will be no further disasters," Balisacan said.

He announced the government is crafting a 38.8 billion peso ($902.3 million) immediate rehabilitation plan for the regions affected by Haiyan.

With the intervention, the government hopes the economic impact of Haiyan will not linger any longer than the second quarter of 2014.

The latest assessment report by the government showed that the damage to infrastructure and agriculture from Haiyan is already nearing 25 billion pesos and that to housing is about 1.1 million.

Haiyan killed at least 5,560 people and 1,757 remain missing.

At least 3.5 million people have been displaced.