MANILA, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine economy posted a 6.8 percent growth in 2016, making the country the fastest growing economy in 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the National Economic and Development Authority said on Thursday.
"This is along the high-end of the government's target of 6.0 to 7.0 percent growth rate for 2016. This also brings the seven-year moving average of real gross domestic product growth rate to 6.3 percent - the highest since 1978," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia told a news conference.
Pernia said the Philippine economy grew 6.6 percent growth in the last quarter of 2016, backed by higher investment and consumption, which is a testament that the Philippine economy remains robust and is growing at a healthy and steady pace.
He said the Philippines is likely either the third or fourth fastest growing major Asian emerging economy in the fourth quarter after China's 6.8 percent and Vietnam's 6.7 percent, adding for the full year of 2016, it could be the second fastest, with China growing at 6.7 percent for the whole year.
Pernia said domestic demand continued to fuel growth for the fourth quarter of 2016.
"There was continued robust expansion in investments, which grew by 15 percent. Public investment in infrastructure remained strong with public construction expanding by 23 percent, faster than the 20.1 percent growth in the third quarter. Private consumption grew, though slower than the previous quarter, to a still respectable 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter," he said.
"This is attributed to high consumer confidence, modest inflation and interest rates, and improving labor market conditions."
He also said that external demand improved with exports in goods rising by 9.6 percent in the fourth quarter from 7.8 percent in the previous quarter. Growth in imports also accelerated to 18.6 percent, supported by sustained increase in purchases of capital and durable goods, which indicate business and consumer confidence, and sustainability of growth, he said.
In terms of sectors on the supply side, he said growth in services improved to 7.4 percent and industry grew by 7.6 percent in the fourth quarter. However, he said agriculture growth returned to negative territory, reeling from the two typhoons that pummeled the country during the fourth quarter.
Overall, Pernia was confident that the Philippines could hit the economic growth target of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent for 2017.