ADB keeps 6.8% growth forecast for PH in 2018

The ADB said while credit growth slowed in the first eight months of the outgoing fiscal year demand pressures kept imports high and the resulting steady drawdown of foreign exchange reserves indicates a need for policy tightening

Teething issues related to the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), which hampered operations of small and medium sized enterprises and exporters, also contributed to growth moderation.

"Diversifying exports away from readymade garments and promoting labour intensive manufacturing would help expand industry and underpin continued high economic growth", the ADB country director added.

The ADB now expects China's economy to grow 6.6 percent this year, faster than the bank's prior estimate of 6.4 percent made in December, and by 6.4 percent in 2019.

The ADB forecasts gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Asia and the Pacific to reach 6 percent in 2018 and 5.9 percent in 2019, a slight deceleration from the 6.1 percent registered in 2017.

"Despite the short-term costs, the benefits of reform-such as the recently implemented GST-will propel India's future growth", said Yasuyuki Sawada, ADB's Chief Economist.

The report also noted there are external risks to the Philippines' growth outlook from heightened volatility in worldwide Financial markets and uncertainty about global trade openness, although the country's strong external payments position would cushion these effects.

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Vietnam's annual trade now exceeds 185 percent of GDP, making it the second most trade dependent economy in Southeast Asia, behind Singapore. The subregion is expected to maintain its 2017 growth rate of 5.2 per cent in both 2018 and 2019.

The report provides suggestions on ways to enhance government capacity, including strengthening coordination between government agencies and improving technical capacity of staff within these agencies, and fostering stronger partnerships between government agencies, the private sector, and development partners.

Strong external and domestic demand helped economies in the region expand by an average 6.1% past year.

According to ADB, Inflation is projected to decelerate to 7.0% in 2018, as exchange rate stability improves, and rise to 8.0% in 2019: "Recession ended in 2017 as higher oil prices and gains in services and agriculture offset a decline in industry and returned the current account balance to surplus". Inflation projections for the next two years, however, are well below the 10-year regional average of 3.7 per cent.

While protectionist trade measures by the United States so far this year have yet to dent trade flows to and from Asia, the risks are there, the Manila-based institution said. "Investment will be supported by large public infrastructure projects such as national and provincial roads, railways, airports, and the Philippines' first mass transit subway", the ADB said in its report.

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