The Philippines is a 120,000 square mile nation in Southeast Asia made up of 7,641 islands. According to 2017 estimates, the gross domestic product of the Philippines was estimated at $348.6 billion which earned the country position as the 34th largest economy globally. The Philippines conducts trade with some countries such as the US, China, and the Netherlands. The nation exports a wide array of products both manufactured goods such as electronic equipment and agricultural commodities such as fruits. The country has a significant labor force made up of about 40.8 million individuals who represent close to 40% of the nation's total population. In 2014 the national unemployment rate was at 6% which had dropped to 5.5% in June 2018 according to data from Trading Economics. The government of the Philippines initiated a program to reduce the economy's reliance on agriculture and instead focus on service and manufacturing industries. After the Second World War, economic growth surged and earned the Philippines the title of the second most affluent nation in East Asia. Poor leadership caused a reverse in the gains made, and for a while, the nation's economy was in recession. In the 1990's, the government initiated a policy of economic liberalization which aided economic recovery in the country.
Biggest Industries in the Philippines
Tourism is an essential component of the economy of the Philippines due to the substantial contribution it makes to the gross domestic product as well as the vast number of people employed in the sector. In 2011, the tourism industry in the Philippines had about 3.8 million workers who accounted for 10.2% of the total employment in that year. In 2013, tourism contributed approximately 7.1% of the national gross domestic product. Over the years the contribution of tourism to the economy has increased as in 2015 the sector added 10.6% to the national gross domestic product. More employees have been employed in the industry as in 2015 close to 5 million of the nation's citizens worked in tourism. The number of tourists visiting the country has also increased from 5,360,682 individuals in 2015 to 6,620,908 tourists in 2017. The Philippines' government places a lot of emphasis on advertisement as a way to draw tourists and invests heavily in convincing foreigners to visit the state. The nation's biodiversity is a major magnet for tourists particularly in the nation's rainforests and mountains. Diving is popular among tourists as they explore the country's underwater beauty. Located within the Philippines are 6 UNESCO world heritage sites as well as 8 ASEAN heritage parks. The nation's long history has led to various cultures interacting within the country which has contributed to the country's cultural diversity which is a significant attraction for tourists. To recognize the significance of the various cultures within the Philippines, UNESCO declared the nation home to 3 intangible cultural heritage. Most of the visitors to the Philippines are from South Korea. In 2017, South Korean visitors were approximately 1,607,821 which was an increase from 1,475,081 tourists the previous year.
In 2017, about 27.7% of the workers in the Philippines were involved in agricultural activities according to data from the World Bank. The Philippines is responsible for 2.8% of the global rice production earning it the distinction as the 8th largest rice growing country in the world. In 2010, the Philippines imported more rice than any other country to satisfy the citizen's demands. Research into rice varieties has led to the development of improved rice varieties which has significantly increased the crop yields. Corn is also an essential crop in the Philippines because 600,000 farm households earn their livelihoods from the plant. Sugarcane is also a vital crop in the Philippines owing to the vast tracts of land under sugarcane cultivation. The Negros Island Region has the most significant share of sugarcane plantations in the country accounting for around 51% of the total area under sugarcane cover. Mindanao region, accounting for approximately 20%, comes in second. Coconuts are also a vital part of the nation's economy as it is the global leader in the production of coconuts according to data published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2015. Coconuts occupy around 13,513 square miles of land which accounts for 25% of the nation's agricultural land. The Philippines also produces vast quantities of fruits such as bananas and pineapples. The Philippines was ranked in the top three in the production of both fruits globally.
In the Philippines, the manufacturing industry has grown to play a significant role in the nation's economy. The sector's development has seen its contribution to the gross domestic product increase to nearly 25% of the national total. In 2012, the industry grew by 5.4%, and in 2013 the growth rate was at 10.5%. From 2001 to 2013, employment in the manufacturing industry increased at an average rate of 0.8% annually. Various manufacturing industries have a presence in the Philippines such as tobacco manufacturing and fabricated metal manufacturing. The government of the Philippines has put in place several policies to promote the growth of the manufacturing industry. The manufacturing industry has the potential to generate more jobs as well as contribute more to the gross domestic product should the government implement the relevant policies.
Growth of the Economy
The World Bank expects that the economy of the Philippines will continue to grow in the coming years due to productive investment in the national resources both human and physical. The government has outlined some programs to improve the national economy such as designing training programs to improve the skills of the nation's workforce. The government is also looking into supporting several research and development initiatives which will increase innovation in the country. The government is emphasizing the development of clean industries to ensure that the nation's economic growth is sustainable. Proper resource management ensures that the country develops faster and more sustainably. The government also wishes to attract more foreign investments into the nation by presenting the Philippines as an attractive investment destination. Aside from foreign investors, the government is seeking to promote local small and medium enterprises to make the citizens more self-reliant. According to the World Bank, the Philippines is ranked 113th in the ease of doing business. The Philippines dropped in ranking from 99th in the previous year due to the country's slow rate of regulatory reform.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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