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03/04/2013

New Asian tiger ... the Philippines?

Economic growth in the Philippines is moving along, causing one World Bank expert to call it the “rising tiger.”

But the news isn’t all rosy for the nation of 94.8 million.

Seems as though the wealth is only being passed around to a small circle of 40 people.

According to data from 2011, the 40 richest families on the Forbes list of the wealthy accounted for 76 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product growth, reports Agence France Press.

Further, the two richest people in the Philippines, Henry Sy and Lucio Tan, are worth about 6 per cent, or a combined $13.6 billion, of the entire country’s economy, AFP says.

Sy, a Chinese immigrant and shopping mall magnate, is number 68 on Forbes list of billionaires. Tan, also born in China, trails Sy on the Forbes billionaire club list at 248. He made it big on his investments in beer and cigarettes.

One of the biggest rich-poor divides in Asia is in the Philippines where 26 per cent of the people live in dire poverty.

Meanwhile, across the Philippine Sea, China’s $7.31 trillion economy keeps roaring along.

And life is getting marginally better in the country of 1.3 billion. It only has a 2.8 per cent poverty ratio, World Bank data shows.

China’s economy is on track to expand 8.2 per cent in 2013, indicates TD Senior economist Martin Schwerdtfeger, in a new report released Monday.

Private consumption is rising solidly. Increasingly available credit is supporting real estate and construciton projects, he notes in his report: Chinese Economy Will Pull its Weight Amidst Subpar Global Economic Growth.

China’s expanding economy should help prop up nearly everyone else’s lack luster performances as countries like U.S. and Canada are expected to gain from increased exports to the biggest Asian tiger.

Tanya Talaga is the Star’s Global Economics correspondent. Follow her on Twitter @tanyatalaga

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