"We are progressing step by step."
The third quarter GDP figures validated the argument of the country’s economic managers: the Philippines can reopen and contain the the spread of COVID-19 at the same time.
Unlike in the previous lockdown episodes, the quarantine measures in the third quarter did not fully shut down the economy. They allowed workers in factories to man their jobs, opened many commercial establishments even at reduced capacity and permitted the public transportation to partially operate.
Health authorities also confined lockdowns to specific areas, instead of totally shutting down regions. The economy was able to breathe as a result as the so-called granular or neighborhood lockdowns. The increasing vaccination rate in Metro Manila, which contributes over 30 percent to the gross domestic product, and other urban centers in the nation also helped in the economic recovery.
The Philippine economy grew by a better-than-expected 7.1 percent in the third quarter of 2021 as more consumers went out of their homes to visit malls, dine and purchase goods. Household consumption rose 7.1 percent, while the industry and services sectors expanded 7.9 percent and 8.2 percent, respectively.
The economic rebound is more widespread in the third quarter than in the past period, suggesting more vibrant business activities. The wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles sector grew 6.4 percent while manufacturing expanded 6.3 percent. The construction sector, meanwhile, rose 16.8 percent.
The third quarter expansion brought the average GDP growth rate in the first nine months to 4.9 percent, or near the government’s upper end of the target range of 4 percent to 5 percent for the full year. The Philippine economy clearly is on the mend and on its way to full recovery next year. This means more jobs and the resumption of operations of small and medium scale enterprises after being moribund in over a year.
It may still take months, though, before the economy reached its pre-pandemic level. The tourism sector that offers services to foreign travelers, for one, is yet to reopen, while face-to-face schooling has not begun. But the economy is progressing step by step.