World Bank downgrades growth outlook for Philippines, East Asia

The Philippines will likely miss its 6 percent to 7 percent growth target for 2019, the World Bank said on Thursday. Above, the Philippines’ financial district of Makati. (AFP)
Updated 10 October 2019

World Bank downgrades growth outlook for Philippines, East Asia

  • But ‘Philippine economy remains strong’ as growth would rebound to 6 percent in 2020 and 2021

DUBAI: The World Bank on Thursday downgraded its growth forecasts for the Philippine economy and the wider East Asia Pacific region as a weakening global economy, rising protectionism and the lingering US-China trade spat tempered expectations.

The Philippines will likely miss its 6 percent to 7 percent growth target for 2019, the Washington-based lender said as GDP would expand at a slower 5.8 percent this year versus the 6.4 percent it earlier forecast.

The slowdown in Manila’s economic growth, according to the global lender, are largely due to the delay in the passage of this year’s national budget as well as the government spending ban on new projects prior to the May midterm elections.

World Bank senior economist Rong Qian, in a statement, however said the ‘Philippine economy remains strong’ as growth would rebound to 6 percent in 2020 and 2021 particularly if next year’s national expenditure plan gets swift legislative approval.

“[The] timely passage of the 2020 budget and decisive action on the country’s tax reform program will remove uncertainties and help the private sector make timely decisions, boosting job creation,” Mara K. Warwick, the World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, also said in the statement.

Meanwhile, economic growth in the East Asia Pacific would slow to 5.8 percent in 2019 from 6.3 percent last year due as the heightened uncertainty involving the US-China trade tiff – which resulted to a pull-back in exports and investment growth – test the resilience of the region.

Regional growth as also downgraded to 5.7 in 2020 and 5.6 percent in 2021, respectively, from Bank’s previous assessment.

The World Bank noted that “downside risks to the region’s growth prospects have intensified. Prolonged trade tensions between China and the United States would continue to hurt investment growth, given high levels of uncertainty.”

“A faster-than-expected slowdown in China, the Euro Area and the United States, as well as a disorderly Brexit, could further weaken the external demand for the region’s exports.”


First Abu Dhabi Bank and Egypt Post launch services drive

Updated 30 September 2020

First Abu Dhabi Bank and Egypt Post launch services drive

  • The First Abu Dhabi Bank is the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates

CAIRO: First Abu Dhabi Bank in Egypt has signed a memorandum of understanding with Egypt Post to boost financial inclusion in society and improve customer services.

The strategy is in line with the country’s plan to improve and develop communication channels with citizens and improve access to basic services.

The agreement was signed by Mohamed Abbas Fayed, CEO of First Abu Dhabi Bank, and Sherif Farouk, Chairman of the National Postal Authority, Egypt Post.

A statement issued by First Abu Dhabi Bank said the memorandum of understanding will improve access to post offices, through which foreign remittances, salaries and pensions can be received and disbursed by Egyptians at home and abroad.

The partnership will also help the bank provide notification and collection services to customers, payments through its mobile smart wallet, services for collecting and paying customer dues, exchange and collection services for small and medium enterprises, credit services and contractual postal services.

The statement added that the agreement will build a culture of financial inclusion and awareness, while also reducing the cost of banking operations.

Farouk said that the memorandum will allow the authority to handle remittances of overseas Egyptians through its 4,000 Egypt Post branches across the country.

Fayed said the partnership is part of the bank’s strategy to boost access to customer services, whether individuals or companies.

He added that money transfers from outside Egypt are one of the most important sources of foreign currency for the country. Easing money transfers for Egyptians working abroad with First Abu Dhabi Bank via the National Postal Authority will increase the amount of remittance exchange outlets and transfers.

The First Abu Dhabi Bank is the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates and one of the biggest financial institutions in the world. Its network of branches are in 19 countries around the world, including Egypt.