Philippine economy to grow faster in 2017 on solid exports - World Bank

MANILA, Dec 15 (Reuters) - The Philippine economy is expected to expand at a slightly quicker pace in 2017 than earlier forecast, driven by a pick-up in exports in the previous two quarters, the World Bank said on Friday.

The World Bank said growth could reach 6.7 percent, higher than its previous forecast of 6.6 percent, but it retained its 6.7 percent growth forecast for next year.

"Continued global economic recovery gaining steam has led to higher than expected export growth for the Philippines and an encouraging upturn for the third quarter of 2017," said Birgit Hansl, the World Bank's lead economist for the Philippines.

The central bank on Friday sharply hiked its 2017 full-year export growth forecast to 11 percent from 5 percent.

The Southeast Asian nation's economy expanded 6.9 percent in the third quarter, led by strong industrial and services output. Second quarter growth was upwardly revised to 6.7 percent from 6.5 percent.

Simultaneous recovery in major advanced economies would mean stronger import demand from the Philippines' main trading partners, the United States, Japan and Europe, the World Bank said.

Investments and infrastructure spending could propel the economy to outperform this year and the next.

"If investment growth accelerates faster along with increased spending in public infrastructure, economic expansion can be even higher in 2017 and 2018 and exceed the current projection of 6.7 percent," Hansl said.

President Rodrigo Duterte is embarking on a $180-billion infrastructure spending spree to ensure sustainable growth over the long term. The infrastructure programme hinges on the tax reform bill that the Philippine Congress approved late on Wednesday.

The Asian Development Bank upgraded on Wednesday its forecast of Philippine economic growth to 6.7 percent from 6.5 percent in its September outlook (graphic).

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of NASDAQ, Inc.