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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Philippines says Super Typhoon Haiyan, other storms curb growth
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Nov 28, 2013


The Philippines' economy expanded 7.0 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, but a series of storms curbed growth and a devastating typhoon this month will slow momentum further, the government said Thursday.

One of Asia's best performing economies had been on track for growth well above 7.0 percent for the full year, but the government said Super Typhoon Haiyan was expected to cut up to 0.8 percentage points from the final quarter.

Nevertheless, President Benigno Aquino's administration said the economy remained well placed, pointing out the third quarter was the fifth straight three-month period in which growth was at 7.0 percent or above.

"This solid growth demonstrates the continuing resilience of the economy in the face of global economic challenges and natural calamities," said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

The third-quarter growth of 7.0 percent year-on-year was down from 7.6 in the second quarter, and brought expansion for the first three quarters of the year to 7.4 percent.

The performance from July to September was slightly lower than economists had expected.

One of the worst-performing sectors in the third quarter was agriculture, which grew by just 0.3 percent year-on-year.

National Statistical Coordination Board secretary general Jose Albert said this was partly due to damage to farms from 10 typhoons and tropical storms that struck the country during those three months.

The Philippines endures an average of 20 typhoons or tropical storms annually, many of them deadly. Most strike in the second half of the year and often cause flood damage to rice and other crops.

But Haiyan, which hit on November 8, was one of the strongest ever recorded and generated giant storm surges that laid waste to dozens of coastal settlements and vast swathes of farmland throughout central Philippine islands.

More than 5,500 people have been confirmed killed and four million had their homes destroyed or damaged. One million fishermen and farmers lost their livelihoods.

Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said Haiyan would cut 0.3-0.8 percentage points from gross domestic product growth in the final quarter.

But he said the national economy was still doing "very well", and the government's long-held full-year growth target of 7.0 percent remained achievable.

Balisacan said this would still make the Philippines one of the world's fastest-growing economies, behind China.

A property boom and the services sector were the main drivers of the economic expansion in the third quarter, according to Balisacan.

He rejected suggestions that the high economic growth figures were mainly driven by speculation in real estate.

"Indicators do not support claims of a property bubble at this time," he said.

"Our economic fundamentals are very solid. The dependence of the economy on the real estate sector is very low."

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