Most Filipinos are hopeful for 2013

Ninety-two percent of adult Filipinos are entering the New Year with hope rather than with fear, according to the Fourth Quarter 2012 Social Weather Survey conducted from December 8 to 11, 2012.

The 92% hopeful of the coming 2013 is just 3 points below the record-high 95% which was first achieved in 2002, for those who entered 2003 with hope, and again in 2011, for those who entered 2012 with hope.

Philippine employment rate inches down to 93.2%

There are currently about 37.7 million Filipinos employed in the different sectors of the Philippine economy with an employment rate of 93.2 percent, slightly down from the 2011 level of 93.6 percent.

Cagayan Valley reported the highest employment rate of 97.6 percent followed by Zamboanga Peninsula with 96.6 percent. National Capital Region (NCR) posted the lowest employment rate of 89.0 percent.

The total population 15 years old and over in October 2012 was estimated at 63.3 million. Out of this estimate, 40.4 million persons were in the labor force which translates to a labor force participation rate (LFPR) of 63.9 percent. 

The LFPR in October 2011 was 66.3 percent.  Among regions, the highest LFPR was posted in Northern Mindanao at 68.5 percent, while the lowest was reported in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) at 57.9 percent.

Out of the estimated 37.7 million employed persons in October 2012, workers belonging to the services sector comprised the largest proportion with 52.6 percent of the total employed persons. Of the employed persons in the services sector, those engaged in wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles accounted for the highest percentage (18.7% of the total employed).

Workers in the agriculture sector appeared to be the second largest group with an estimate of 32.3 percent of the total employed.  Only 15.2 percent of the total employed were working in the industry sector.

Among the major occupation groups, the laborers and unskilled workers comprised the largest group making up 33.5 percent of the total employed persons in October 2012.  Farmers, forestry workers and fishermen were the second largest group with 14.4 percentage share.

Employed persons fall into any of these categories: wage and salary workers, self-employed workers without any paid employee, employer in own family-operated farm or business, and unpaid family workers.

Wage and salary workers are those who work for private households, private establishments, government or government-controlled corporations, and those who work with pay in own family-operated farm or business.  More than half (57.0%) of the total employed population in October 2012 were wage and salary workers, with the largest percentage (43.2% of the total employed) working for private establishments.

Those working for the government or government-controlled corporations accounted for 8.1 percent while those working for private households comprised only 5.4 percent.  In October 2011, wage and salary workers accounted for 54.9 percent of the total employed.

Philippine exports to grow by 11% in 2013

The Philippine exports industry is expected to grow by 11 percent in 2013 from 2012’s 9 to 10-percent target on the back of robust services exports and improving electronics revenues.

Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis said  apart from electronics, which make up about half of the Philippines’ total shipments, furniture and fixtures, metal products and agriculture products can boost next year’s exports growth.

“On the services side, it would be tourism and BPOs (business process outsourcing),” he said. 
Ortiz-Luis expressed optimism of hitting such high growth next year despite the problems in the United States and Europe and the peso appreciation affecting especially the export sector.

Exporters are looking for new markets and developing innovative products.

Ortiz-Luis believed that a 9 to 10-percent export growth this year is achievable considering the big rebound starting September.

Exports for January to October period already reached $44.475 billion, posting a 7.1-percent growth compared to the same period last year.

With the high 10-month export revenues, the Philippines is now to close to reaching or surpassing this year its all-time record of $51.4 billion in merchandise exports achieved in 2010.

The public-private Export Development Council (EDC) expects to hit at least $52 billion to $53 billion in export sales by end of 2012.

The Philippines aims to achieve an 11-percent growth in the next three years to be able to double up exports to $120 billion by 2016.  

Region 2 development council launches investment promo campaign

The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region II recently launched its new branding campaign, “Bountiful Cagayan Valley Region,” and 2012 Investment Guidebook to promote the region as an ideal investment destination in the country.
“The five provinces of Region II are one in building up investments and improving the economy of the whole Cagayan Valley Region,” said RDC II Acting Chair Mary Anne R. Darauay during the media launch.
Darauay, who is also officer-in-charge of the Region II Office of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said that the initiative is in response to the region’s desire of promoting its rich and diverse investment potentials.
“We hope to attract local and international investors and draw businesses that will generate jobs and consequently reduce poverty in Cagayan Valley,” she said.
“The decision of coming up with a unified regional branding and an investment guidebook was made possible by contributions of RDC II members, especially the provincial governments and Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), and their commitment to promote the region as a whole.  We will try our best to generate funds for the promotion of Cagayan Valley Region to be known not only nationally but globally,” she said.
Positioning itself as the country’s Northern Gateway, Prime Water Resource and Grains Producer, Cagayan Valley’s Regional Development Plan (RDP) 2011-2016 targets to strengthen and expand the industries of grains processing, manufacturing, bioenergy development and multiindustrial clusters.
Darauay said that this will be achieved by luring investors to pour in fresh capital in the region’s five provinces namely Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.
“With rich agricultural areas, forestlands and grasslands for industrial and commercial expansions, we want to make these investors appreciate the region’s bounty and beauty, and eventually make them come over and invest in the region,” said the RDC Chair.
Cagayan Valley is located at the northernmost part of the Philippines, making it an ideal spot for aggressive trading and tourism promotion.  The region also supplies the grain requirement of the National Capital Region and is still capable of further trade with its neighboring provinces.
The region posted the biggest jump in economic growth in 2011 with a 6.5-percentage-point increase, as its gross regional domestic product increased by 5.4 percent in 2011 from negative 1.1 percent in 2010.
Agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing industry drove Cagayan Valley’s output growth last year, exceeding its RDP target of 4.13 percent for 2011.
Complementing the region’s comparative advantage in the agriculture sector, the industry and service sectors are also seen as instrumental in the region’s efficiency and productivity.
Investments in Cagayan Valley grew by an average of 40 percent annually, with the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) contributing majority of total investments. The interactive gaming industry continues to be CEZA’s prime investment attraction contributing more than half of the port’s capital investment.

World Bank raises Philippine economic growth forecast

The World Bank (WB) has raised its growth forecast for the Philippine economy to 6 percent in 2012 and 6 percent in 2013.
In its latest economic update report, the WB report noted that consumption, which accounts for 75 percent of GDP, is expected to drive overall growth underpinned by continued growth in remittances and higher government spending with the national elections next year.
The current account is projected to remain in surplus, driven by remittances and some recovery in electronics exports early in the year.
The report says that risks to the growth projection remain on the downside—the continued high levels of global economic uncertainty combined with weak economic activity in the G3, diminishing returns to quantitative easing in the United States with the looming fiscal cliff, and a slowing Chinese economy are weighing down on global growth prospects.
WB says a window of opportunity exists for the Philippines to accelerate reforms that become a platform for more inclusive and higher growth.
“The country is currently benefiting from strong macroeconomic fundamentals, political stability, and a popular government that is seen by many as committed to improving the lives of the people.”
Several reforms have successfully started, notably in public financial and debt management, anti-corruption, and tax policy.
With further structural reforms, especially in areas which will have more impact on the lives of the poor, along with investments in infrastructure, education, and health, the Philippines can take advantage of new opportunities arising from the global economic rebalancing and the strong growth prospects of the East Asia region, the report said.
“By building on its previous and current successes and by ensuring that it is prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that are coming its way, the government stands to make a significant difference in the lives of Filipinos.”
The WB report expects  the country’s high growth could be sustained and made more inclusive provided that  economic reforms are aggressively pursued to create more and better jobs and reduce poverty at a faster rate,  more revenues are raised to finance higher spending in physical and human capital, and  global growth is supportive and rebalancing in the region continues.