Industrialists see pickup in GDP growth after first-quarter slowdown

THE Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) said it expects gross domestic product (GDP) growth to improve in the coming months after the indicator slowed in the first quarter.

“(GDP) will improve because we just came from a pandemic. Not all companies can get back on their feet right away,” FPI Chairman Jesus L. Arranza said on the sidelines of The Economist Impact’s Global Anti-Illicit Trade Summit in Taguig City on Thursday. 

“Look, we are (coming) from down there. There is no way except to go up,” he added.

According to Mr. Arranza,  industries driving the growth will include construction and manufacturing, which he said is being hampered by competition from smuggling.

“Construction is a big contributor. Manufacturing is also big. However, the manufacturing (sector) is having a lot of problems with smuggling of so many kinds, especially substandard (products). The worst is substandard because it is not only robbing manufacturers, dislocating workers, and is also risking life and limb of users,” Mr. Arranza said.

Gross domestic product grew 6.4% in the first quarter, against the 8% growth posted a year earlier, due to surging inflation, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

 Despite the slower growth, first quarter GDP remained within the administration’s 6-7% target for 2023.

According to preliminary data from the PSA, factory output as measured by the volume of production index slowed to 2.2% in March from the revised 5.2% growth in February and 346.2% growth in March 2022.

On May 16, Pulse Asia released a survey indicating 89% support for policies favoring manufacturing to boost growth.

The survey, commissioned by think tank Stratbase ADR Institute, indicated that half of respondents believe a manufacturing focus will boost investment, generate more jobs, and produce more goods for the domestic market and for export.  

“Investment in the manufacturing sector will lead to a domino effect that will increase productivity, create high quality jobs, provide income and food security, enable the affordability of goods, and spur consumer spending. But then again, setting up a manufacturing operation requires a significant investment in infrastructure, workforce, and knowledge capital,” Stratbase ADR Institute President Victor Andres C. Manhit said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave