PH is fastest-growing economy in Asia, expands by 6.9% in Q1

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Philippine economy grew by nearly 7 percent in the first quarter this year, making it the fastest growing among 11 Asian countries during the period, the government said Thursday (May 19).

The Philippine Statistic Authority (PSA) said the country's gross domestic product (GDP) — the value of a goods and services produced by a country — grew by 6.9 percent during this period, faster than China's 6.7 percent and Vietnam's 5.7 percent.

This is the Philippines' highest quarterly GDP gain since the second quarter of 2013.

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The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the Philippine economy is on track to meet its full-year growth target of 6.8 percent to 7.8 percent.

NEDA, however, said economic growth for the second half of 2016 will depend on how investors will react to the policies of the next administration.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima attributed the growth to the governance standard set by outgoing President Aquino. During Aquino's six years in office, he said, the economy grew by an average of 6.2 percent, the fastest streak since 1978.

"No longer the sick man of Asia, the Philippines emerges more confident and more optimistic than ever, demanding to be governed by even higher standards of governance than before," Purisima said in a statement.

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According to PSA, the services sector was the main driver of growth in the first quarter, expanding by 7.9 percent from the 5.5 percent last year. Faster growth in trade, finance, and real estate, renting and business activities helped push expansion of the services sector, NEDA chief Emmanuel Esguerra said.

The industry sector also performed well, growing by 8.7 percent from last year's 5.3 percent. The industry sector’s growth was the highest in five consecutive quarters with the support of manufacturing, construction, and utilities, Esguerra said.

The agriculture sector, however, suffered a 4.4 percent decline because of El Niño.

Big campaign spending during the elections was also a major factor in boosting the economy.

Esguerra said the second quarter should be expected to show stronger growth than in the first quarter in an election year.

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CNN Philippines' Rex Remitio contributed to this report.