Philippines Economy Sickman of Asia No More?

The Philippines economy, previously branded the "Sickman of Asia" because of its relative slow growth in recent years, is seen to lead growth this year in many of its Asian neighbors with growth projected at 5.3 percent, despite the anticipated slowdown in economic expansion worldwide.

Moody's Ratings said that Southeast Asia would see a reversal role this year and the Philippines would lead the growth.

With consumer spending as one of the strongest drivers, the Philippines economy specifically would outperform other economies in the region although growth would be slower than 2008, Moody's Ratings said.

"We expect tradition to be turned on its head and ASEAN members to undergo a role reversal" said Moody's associate economist Nikhilesh Bhattacharyya.

"This year will probably be the most interesting for Southeast Asia since the financial crisis", he added.

Moody's assessment came amid the latest warnings from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which admitted for the first time that the world's most developed economies have slipped into depression.

Singapore, usually the most stable in the region, would be the worst hit amongst the ASEAN trading bloc, together with Malaysia will experience big output falls and mild rise in unemployment, according to Bhattacharyya.

Indonesia and the Philippines, traditionally less stable, will slow but chances of recession are low, he added.

The Philippines economy has been branded the sick man of Asia because of its slow growth in recent years.

But this time around, the country would keep within its growth range despite the slowdown that would result from the global recession.

Singapore is expected to suffer the largest swing in its economy, with 4.4 percent contraction expected in 2009 compared with a 1.2 percent expansion in 2008.

Indonesia is expected to grow 3.9 percent considered as "not too bad" by Moody's in the light of the state of the global economy.

Moody's projects a slow economic growth in nearly all other economies in the region that won't keep pace with labor force growth, resulting to higher unemployment.

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