Office space demand on the rise in Metro Manila

The demand is quickly catching up with supply as office space requirements are showing no signs of
a slowdown, according to CBRE Philippines.
CBRE noted that prime and grade A offices in major business districts posted more than 96% occupancy rate on the average in the first quarter of 2012.
“While demand continues to grow primarily due to the sustained expansion of the outsourcing and off-shoring industry, new supply remained scarce.”
The limited turnover did little to ease the tight supply situation in the market. Supply pressures resulted to the further increase in lease rates of BPO offices,CBRE said.
In Makati, the average vacancy rate declined from 4.47% in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 3.43% in the first quarter of 2012.
CBRE said the consistent growth in demand for traditional offices by multinational and local companies coupled with the lack of new completions is sustaining the supply pressures in the business district.
The average lease rate increased from P818 per square meter per month in the fourth quarter of 2011 to P831 per square meter per month in the first quarter of the year.
CBRE expects the demand for office space in Makati Central business district to be sustained as flight to quality increases.
Additional supply is expected for turnover in the second half of the year to augment the supply of both traditional and business process outsourcing (BPO) offices.
The first building set for completion during the year is the Zuellig Building, which is the first prime office building to
be pre-certified gold under the LEED core and shell program. It will be operational in the third quarter and will provide 33,000 square meters of new leasable space.
It is the first of its kind in the Makati central business districts and reflects the trend in the quality of prime buildings that will be constructed in the future.
CBRE said the average vacancy rate in Fort Bonifacio went down to 1.74% from 4.16% in the previous quarter with the higher absorption of offices turned over in the second half of 2011.
Office buildings in the business district continue to benefit from the stable growth in the requirements of outsourcing and offshoring companies.
The average lease rate inched up by 8.03% from P697 per square meter per month in the fourth quarter of 2011 to P753 per square meter per month in the first quarter of 2012.
Several buildings are up for completion in the succeeding months which will improve the supply situation in the business district.
CBRE said the vacancy rate however is not anticipated to rise drastically given the high pre-commitment levels of upcoming offices. The most notable among the pre-leasing activities is the expansion of operations of Wells Fargo & Co. in McKinley Hill.
A new business support center will be set up in the business district which will be part of the company’s non-core business activities in the country.
The stronger demand for traditional offices in the Ortigas Center has brought down the average vacancy rate to 3.72% from the previous quarter’s 5.6%.
The average lease rate increased by 4.1% from P537 per square meter per month in the previous quarter to P559 per square meter per month.
CBRE said the upcoming offices in the business district will cater to BPO companies with additional supply
expected for turnover starting in the fourth quarter.

Exports of Philippine coconut water surge 300% in 1st quarter

Exports of Philippine coconut water surged by 300 percent to 4.49 million liters in the first quarter of the year compared to last year’s figures of 1.12 million liters.
Euclides Forbes, administrator of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) reported that export earnings rose by 260 percent to $4.78 million from $1.32 million in 2011.
Coco water export to the United States this quarter registered the highest increase of 426 percent to $3.94 million  compared to last year’s first quarter figures of $748,076.
The export volume likewise registered a 367 percent for this quarter with 3.72 million liters against last year’s figures of 796,887 liters.
Export of coco water to Netherlands rose by 493 percent from 32,000 liters to 189,800 liters valued at $208,602.
Australia registered volume increase from 362.55 liters to 65,219 liters with value from $16,350 to $80,430, up by  391 percent.
Administrator Forbes is confident that this year’s coco water export figures will even exceed that of total 2011 figures which registered 16.6 million liters valued at $15.13 million considering that international demand for coco water continue to rise as more people turn health conscious.
He noted that it is beneficial to drink coconut water which is a natural beverage that is rich in potassium and magnesium.
Coco water contains a considerable amount of vitamin B such as thiamine which strengthens the muscles, delay fatigue, and maintain normal heart function. It is regarded as a good source of electrolytes and glucose and have been found suitable for intravenous rehydration.
Administrator Forbes has reiterated the need to plant more coconut trees to meet the growing demand for coconut products and by-products not only coconut water.
He reaffirmed PCA’s commitment in the aggressive implementation of various programs involving planting, replanting, and fertilization of coconut farms which will increase coconut productivity.
Forbes is confident this will generate new job opportunities for millions of Philippine farmers dependent on the coconut industry for their livelihood.

Philippine economy posts 6.4% growth in 1st quarter

Socio-Economic Planning Sec. Arsenio Balisacan
The Philippine economy as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared to a revised growth of 4.9 percent last year. 
Socio-economic Planning Sec. Arsenio Balisacan said the growth was driven by the services and industry sectors on the supply side and by net exports, household final consumption expenditure, and government consumption on the demand side.
The growth for the quarter was supported by accelerated government spending, low prices which supported household consumption, better-than-anticipated exports performance,  continued credit expansion, continued robustness of remittances, expansion in the tourism sector, increased business and consumer confidence, and an overall buoyant domestic economic outlook.
Romulo Virola, secretary-general of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said the first quarter growth also got a big boost from manufacturing which has recovered some grounds that got eroded during the third and fourth quarters last year.
On the demand side, the growth came mainly from net exports and the robust household spending.
“With compensation of our overseas workers on the rebound, the net primary Income (NPI) grew by 4 percent pushing the gross national product (GNP) to 5.8 percent from 3.5 percent in 2011,” Virola said.
With the growth of poultry, livestock, corn, and coconut including copra, the agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishery sector posted a turnaround growth of 2.5 percent in the first quarter from two consecutive quarters of decline.
However, the industry slowed down to 2.2 percent growth from 3.3 percent in the previous quarter. But the services sector accelerated to 2.6 percent from 1.3 percent in the previous quarter as all its subsectors recorded positive growth.
With the projected population reaching 95.2 million, per capita GDP grew by 4.6 percent while per capita gross national income grew by 4 percent.
Sec.Balisacan said growth in the first quarter translated to an increase in employment of 1.101 million. Employment generation was more pronounced in services, followed by industry.
The continued strong inflows of remittances, robust inbound tourist receipts and low inflation environment contributed to significant increases in employment creation, particularly in the services sector, which fueled consumption.