Calabarzon economy grew 4.8 percent in 2016



An industrial hub’s growth got a boost from services, agriculture



STO. TOMAS, BATANGAS—Economic growth in the industrial region where Lipa City is situated grew only by 4.8 percent in 2016, and has the agricultural sector to thank.

This is some 0.8 percentage points lower than the 5.6 gross regional domestic product (GRDP) the Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) registered in 2015, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

GRDP or Gross Regional Domestic Product measures the economic performance of a geographic region. GRDP covers the monetary value of all final goods and services produced within the region in a given period of time.

The three major economic sectors in which growth is computed are agriculture, industry and services.

GRDP is usually reported in terms of growth rate and expressed in real terms or at constant prices. Annual growth rates then show if a regional economy grew faster, slower or declined.

The slowdown can be attributed to the slow growth of the region’s industrial and manufacturing sectors. PSA’s 2016 GRDP report said Calabarzon industrial sector grew by 3.7 percent in 2016, lower than its 5.7 percent growth in 2015

Manufacturing, for its part, also slowed down at 3.6 percent compared to previous year’s growth of 5.5 percent.

The slowdown can also be attributed to lower year-on-year growth rates in construction (2.5 percent in 2016 versus 7.2 percent in 2015) and mining and quarrying (1.8 percent in 2016 versus 17.9 percent in 2015).

However, the electricity, gas and water sector grew faster at 7.5 percent, from the previous year’s 6.8 percent.

While manufacturing and construction slowed, the agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing (AHFF) sector grew by 3.4 percent last year, higher than the 2.6 percent in 2015.

“We don’t have calamities anymore like the cocolisap, thus the growth (in the agriculture industry),” Banua says.

In 2015, the Agriculture and Forestry sub-sector had a higher growth of 5.9 percent. Livestock industry in the region, PSA says, contributed much to the growth.

Canadian business process outsourcing firm Alorica continues to search for employees in Lipa City. BPOs helped drive the services sector of the Calabarzon economy toa 4.8 percent growth in 2016. (photo by Marwin Sulit, posted in Lipa City Philippines’ Facebook page)

The services sector also grew 7.2 percent, higher than the 6.7 percent of 2015. Here, the PSA said were largely driven by expansions in the financial intermediation, public administration and defense, compulsory social security, real estate, renting and business activities and transport, as well as communication.

Regional Director Luis Banua of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said an existing election ban on government infrastructure projects, that stalled construction both in the private and public sectors, may have led to the slowdown in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

“When there’s an election, investors are always on the wait-and-see mode as depending on the priority (of the upcoming administration). Existing policies may be subject to change,” Banua said.

Banua expects both industries to be in an upswing this year with the polls long over given the Rodrigo Duterte administration’s “build, build, build” program. Calabarzon is part of this massive infrastructure program of the nearly-year-old government with projects such as the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) extension to Lucena City, or the Toll Road 4 project that will help connect Calabarzon to Metro Manila and other neighboring provinces.

On the other hand, fishing still posted a contraction but at a lower rate of 0.6 percent in 2016 (a 6.6 percent decline was recorded in 2015).

While the neighboring National Capital Region is largely driven by services sector, PSA officials cited manufacturing and construction as primary movers of Calabarzon’s economy.

Despite last year’s slower economic growth, NEDA and PSA officials are upbeat of the region’s 2017 economic performance. Calabarzon contributes some 16.8 percent to overall Philippine growth. NCR is the top contributor (36.6 percent) by region.

The Philippine economy grew 6.9 percent in 2016.

Next to NCR’s per-capita GRDP of P232,837 in 2016, Calabarzon also posted the second highest per-capita GRDP estimated at P94,826.

That figure is also higher than the national per capita GDP in the same year, PSA said.

“As long as there’s positive growth, it’s a sign that the economy is growing. We have a population of about 14 million, which is the largest in the country and with the amount of workforce, that alone may be attractive enough to lure investors,” said PSA-Calabarzon Regional Director Charito Armonia.

Lipa City is part of a chain of localities that house industrial parks that have foreign manufacturers as locators. These industrial parks are the Aboitiz-owned Lipa-Malvar (LIMA) Technology Center and the First Philippine Industrial Park (FPIP) in Sto. Tomas municipality, near the Star Tollway heading to Lipa. These industrial parks continue to attract foreign manufacturers, and their operations there help generate jobs to Lipa City residents and to other workers from Calabarzon.



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