The Philippines is still facing challenges this year that may hamper economic growth due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic but the “worst is over” in 2020, the country’s top trade official said.
In a television interview on Friday, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said the economic recovery has begun since the reopening of economic activities due to relaxed quarantine measures amid the Covid-19 health crisis.
“We are still facing risk but I would also say that the worst is over. 2020 was really the height of the lockdown and we saw the economy really dropping. But ever since, we have seen signs of recovery from GDP (gross domestic product) to unemployment rates,” Lopez said.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the country recorded a 17.7 percent unemployment rate in April last year, the highest since 2005.
It slowed down to 10 percent in July when the government reopened economic and business activities.
After plummeting by 49.9 percent in April, export revenues recovered by 2.2 percent in September and 3 percent in November.
The GDP contraction likewise slowed down from a 16.9-percent decline in the second quarter of 2020 to -11.9 percent in the following quarter.
“We have been reopening the economy gradually and safely towards the latter part of 2020. That is the reason why we have been seeing signs of recovery (in) many aspects,” Lopez added.
He said the Philippine government has signed deals with Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers and the immunization program would be rolled out this year.
“We simply just have to manage the virus and the policy of the Philippine leaders right now is to be able to have an attitude of risk management rather than risk avoidance,” Lopez said.
He said he is also expecting the country to benefit from regional trade deals, including the recently concluded Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
The DTI, he added, is also looking into possible participation in the Comprehensive and Progressing Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Meanwhile, he welcomed the announcement of United States President-elect Joe Biden on a $1.9-trillion stimulus package for their economic recovery.
“The recovery of America is also a recovery for the world and for other countries of the world,” he said. SOVEREIGNPH