MANILA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Like any other country in the world, the Philippines is not immune to natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes. But experts and officials believe that the country's economy will be virtually "shock-proof" this year, barring natural disasters that would wreak havoc on the country's capital region and nearby provinces.
There's a lot of reasons for Philippine economic managers and experts to be hopeful. For one, the increase in the country's gross domestic product (GDP) managed to overshoot the government's target of 6 to 7 percent last year despite the spate of natural calamities that struck central Philippines.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said Thursday that the country's economy grew by 7.2 percent in 2013, faster than the 6.8 percent recorded in the previous year. The siege in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake and typhoon Haiyan which struck central Philippines failed to significantly dampen the country's economic performance.
"Economic growth (for 2013) could have been better, had we not been perturbed by various disasters that hit the country," National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Arsenio Baliscan told a press briefing on Thursday.
This year, the government is targeting to grow the country's economy by 6.5 to 7.5 percent. Government officials and experts believe that this target is "attainable."
"For as long as the National Capital Region and nearby provinces in (northern Philippines) are not hit by natural disasters such as super typhoon Haiyan, we will be fine," said NEDA Assistant Director General Rosemarie Edillon.
Big businesses are located in the Philippines' capital region while nearby provinces such as Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Pampanga, and Laguna are major rice and livestock producers.
University of Asia and the Pacific economist Cid Terosa said the GDP growth target for 2014 can be achieved owing to strong domestic consumption, public and private construction and better trade performance.
Philippine Economic Society President Alvin Ang said typhoon reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts will also boost growth for this year.
"Both the government and the private sector will be spending more this year for the reconstruction and rehabilitation effort. Projects under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme will also be fast-tracked," said Ang.
Balisacan also said the economic recovery of developed countries will boost industrial growth and accelerate the country' s exports this year.
Last year, the performance of Philippine economy was boosted by the industry sector which expanded by 9.5 percent and the services sector which posted a growth of 7.1 percent. The strong performance of the industry sector was driven by the 10.5-percent expansion in manufacturing.
The agriculture and fisheries sector, however, bore the brunt of natural disasters in 2013. The sector's growth slowed to 1.1 percent in 2013, from 2.8 percent registered in the previous year.
The Philippine government vowed to focus on the agriculture sector and make it more resilient to natural disasters.