PH is 'Asia's rising star', says global think tank

The Philippines has been hailed as "Asia's rising star" by a global think tank, as it noted that it expects the country to grow faster than most of the world this year and in 2014.

Stellar economic expansion made the Philippines "among the brightest parts of a generally gloomy global picture," Moody’s Analytics said in a report released Wednesday.

The country's gross domestic product topped expectations by growing 6.6 percent in 2012, a result Moody's Analytics said "looks sustainable, as risks are low and most sectors of the economy are growing solidly."

"We expect GDP growth to remain in the 6.5 to 7-percent range in 2013 and 2014, making the Philippines one of the world's fastest-growing economies," the report noted.

The forecasts hew to the government target of 6-7 percent in 2013 and 6.5-7.5 percent next year.

Moody's Analytics is a sister company of global debt watcher Moody's Investor Service, which places the Philippines a notch below investment grade with a Ba1 rating.

The Philippines last month bagged its first-ever investment grade in history from credit watchdog Fitch Ratings, which also lauded growth amid a global slowdown.

Moody's Analytics linked the Philippine's performance to "good governance" which it said is "far and away the most important driver of growth in emerging markets."

It also lauded President Benigno Aquino III for implementing much-needed reforms and for continuing those initiated during the Arroyo administration.

"The government's 2011-2016 development plan provides a five-year blueprint for growth and development, providing transparency, predictability and accountability," the report said.

"The crackdown on corruption and encouragement of local and foreign investments, in particular, have worked well," it added.

Operational risks have however been cited in terms of private investment, with Moody's Analytics underlining "complicated and changeable" regulations and taxes.

It also noted the need to "ease restrictions on foreign ownership and streamline rules for starting businesses, paying taxes and dealing with workers" in order to attract more foreign capital.

"Some low-hanging policy fruits have already been picked, but if development and reform continue near their current pace, the Philippines’ potential rate for growth will rise towards 8 percent by 2016," it added.

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