Exports recovery may limit job cuts

Published by rudy Date posted on March 26, 2009

MANILA, Philippines (Reuters) — Exports may recover in the second half of the year as global demand picks up, which could limit job losses to half the 200,000 expected earlier, a senior government official said on Thursday.

Spending by politicians ahead of the 2010 presidential elections would also boost the economy this year, and help the government meet its economic growth target of 3.7-4.4 percent, said Dennis Arroyo, director for policy planning at the National Economic Development Authority.

“SEIPI people are saying exports would recover by the third and fourth quarter because the inventory depletion abroad has already bottomed out,” he said, referring to industry association Semiconductor and Electronics Industries.

“So the job bleeding will have stopped by then or at least minimized,” he told reporters.

The Philippines’ exports are dominated by electronics, and total exports slumped by 41 percent in January from a year earlier, its steepest fall on record, as the downturn hit demand.

Exports are forecast to fall 6.0-8.0 percent this year after a 2.86 percent drop in 2008. Gross domestic product, or the value of all goods and services produced, grew 4.6 percent last year.

So far, 49,000 Filipinos have lost their jobs as businesses from electronics to mining cut costs to survive the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression. Arroyo said the figure excludes 6,000 Filipino workers laid off abroad.

But total job losses this year could reach 100,000, he said, half the government’s initial estimate as exporters resume filling orders by the second half of 2009.

Still, that would be higher than the total 87,000 jobs lost during the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis, he said.

Another boost to the economy would be election-related spending as prospective candidates for the May 2010 elections begin their campaigns later this year.

Arroyo said the last congressional polls in 2007 lifted GDP by 0.34 percentage point.

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