Covid impact: Philippines plunges into recession as GDP plunges

Bloomberg August 6 | Updated on August 06, 2020 Published on August 06, 2020

Country had one of Asia’s earliest and longest lockdowns against pandemic

The Philippine economy suffered its deepest contraction on record in the second quarter amid one of Asia’s earliest and longest lockdowns against the coronavirus pandemic.

Gross domestic product shrank 16.5 per cent from a year ago, according to the national statistics agency, the worst reading in a data series going back to 1981. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 21 economists was for a 9.4 per cent contraction. GDP declined for a second consecutive quarter on a quarter-on-quarter basis, down 15.2 per cent, implying the economy is in recession.

“The economic cost of trying to contain the virus is leaving large scars to household and corporate balance sheets, which will weigh heavily on demand for many months to come,” Capital Economics analyst Alex Holmes wrote in a note after the release. “A failure to contain the virus, continued restrictions to movement and inadequate policy support mean the Philippines is also likely to experience one of the regions slowest recoveries.”

The benchmark stock index climbed 0.3 per cent, rising for a third day. The peso was at 49.074 per dollar as of 10:45 a.m., little changed after the data and near its strongest level since November 2016.

Stringent quarantine

President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a stringent quarantine that shut most businesses and suspended public transport from March to May. A surge in Covid-19 infections prompted the government on Tuesday to reimpose a lockdown in the capital region and surroundings.

Record-high unemployment and a steep decline in money sent home by Filipinos have weighed on private consumption, which drives roughly two-thirds of GDP. Exports suffered double-digit annual drops from March to June as the lockdown restricted production and snarled supply chains.

The number of Covid-19 cases has risen more than sixfold since restrictions were eased in June, making the Philippine outbreak the second-largest in South-East Asia.

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Published on August 06, 2020
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