Free-Trade Agreement Advocacy Paper 2018


The Philippines has been recently dubbed as one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia. With a 6.7% GDP growth in 2017, it is among the highest in the region next to China (6.9%) and Vietnam (6.8%). ADB, IMF and the World Bank maintain their bullish forecast on the Philippine economy for 2018 and 2019, which is largely attributed to its strong economic performance in 2017 and its growth prospects. The current administration’s commitment to increase public infrastructure spending as well as rising domestic demand, remittances, and employment are also expected to heavily fuel the economy.

On the local scene, Services remain to cover most of the GDP with 57.46%, followed by Industry at 34.01%, and Agriculture at 8.53%. From a dip in last year’s agriculture sector, 2017 has posted a 3.9% growth. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) remittances, household consumption, exports of goods and services, and manufacturing posted growth, while unemployment rate increased to 5.7%.

As for investments, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reports that foreign direct investment net inflows reached USD 10 billion in 2017, showing a 21.4% increase from the previous year. On the other hand, 2017 posted a negative trade balance amounting to USD 27, 380 million. While global competitiveness, as evaluated by the World Economic Forum, improved by a notch in ranking,10 it is imperative that the Philippines continuously builds on its current successes for competitiveness and inclusive growth.

Indeed, the Philippines has made great strides in various aspects; however, a lot of work still needs to be done. A number of important measures, including amendments to the Public Services Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and amendments to restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution, have yet to materialize. Furthermore, boosting the Philippine manufacturing sector, deepening the ASEAN integration, and enhancing customs facilitation are all crucial for the Philippine economy to step up in the global arena.