MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine economy galloped to its highest annual growth in more than two decades, expanding 7.3 percent in 2010 on strong foreign trade and election spending, officials said Monday, forecasting an equally strong expansion this year.
Head of the government's statistical board Romulo Virola said the growth surpassed official growth projections of 5 percent to 6 percent. The economy grew only 1.1 percent in 2009, hit by the global financial crisis.
The government projected growth of 7 percent to 8 percent for 2011.
Virola said expansion in industry supported by growth in the services sector propelled the economy in the first half.
Agriculture, which employs four in every 10 Filipinos, also recovered in the last three months of 2010 after four consecutive quarters of decline due to a dry spell.
"The domestic economy sizzled to its highest annual GDP growth in the post-Marcos era," Virola said, referring to the 20-year rule of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos that ended with his ouster in 1986.
Spending on election campaigns in the May 2010 national polls, increased domestic consumption and investments boosted by the global recovery contributed to the growth, Virola said.
The peaceful election of President Benigno Aquino III on the promise to fight corruption and poverty has lifted investor sentiment, he said.
Out of the 7.3 percent growth for the whole year, 3.9 percentage points came from industry — mainly foodmanufacturing and mining — and 3.5 percentage points was contributed by services, including the burgeoning business outsourcing led by call centers.
"With the prevailing sanguine outlook of both business and consumers, the economic prospects for 2011 are indeed exciting," Virola said.