Palace Downplays Impact of US Economic Downturn

by Joel Roja/

MANILA — The country’s expanded trade and economic ties with other countries will soften the impact of the US economic slowdown on the local economy, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said on Tuesday.

President Arroyo, shortly before leaving for a seven-day trip to Switzerland and Dubai, for her part called for unity in the face of external challenges to the economy.

“With the continued improvement of our economy and its benefits felt by the people, it is very important that we work together, especially with the threat of the rising oil prices as well as the weakening of the US economy that might affect the Philippines,” Mrs. Arroyo said in Filipino.

“We assure you we will continue to work harder to sustain the economic growth in spite of the various threats to the international economy,” she said.

Reports of the US economic slump triggered massive selling in the equities market across the globe, with Philippine stocks plunging by more than five percent last Tuesday, its biggest single-day loss in five months.

Bunye said that while the US slowdown would affect the Philippines, the impact would be manageable.

“But the important thing and what is nice about the Philippines is we have broadened our ties with other countries,” he said.

He said the country is no longer dependent on western markets, citing trade opportunities with China and India.

“Our trade with China has grown by leaps and bounds and this will somehow cushion whatever negative impact the slowdown in the US economy would have on the Philippines,” Bunye said.

“And we have neighbors like China, India which are growing very, very fast. I believe there’s a lot opportunity if we are able to relate to these countries more broadly and more deeply,” he said.

He said the strategy of the Philippine government is global engagement.

“While the US will remain a very close ally, we are not overlooking opportunities for dealing with other countries, especially our neighbors,” he said.

Mrs. Arroyo also cited the latest Social Weather Stations survey showing that self-rated poverty incidence in December went down to 46 percent from 52 percent three months ago as solid proof that the administration’s anti-poverty and anti-hunger programs are on the right track.

“I am glad that the self-rated poverty incidence has gone down again, the lowest in 20 years. This is the result of the tough economic reforms we implemented, stability, and increased confidence of the international financial community in the country,” she said in Filipino.

She admitted that many Filipinos do not yet feel the benefits of the growing economy but that her administration is determined to address the problem.


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