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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

PHL gets investment grade rating from Korean agency

The Philippines has gotten another investment grade sovereign credit rating, this time from South Korea-based National Information and Credit Evaluation (NICE) Ratings Inc.
NICE Ratings gave the Philippines investment status for the first time. It raised the country’s long-term, foreign-currency rating by a notch from junk to the minimum investment grade of BBB-.
NICE Ratings also assigned a “positive” outlook on the Philippines, which means there is a possibility of another upgrade within the short term.
“The outlook is positive. It reflects the improved growth potential backed by institutional reforms and greater investment in infrastructure,” NICE Ratings said in its latest report on the Philippines.
NICE Ratings cited the Philippines’ ability to sustain economic growth this year. In the first half, the Philippine economy grew by 6 percent.
“The stable growth trend is expected to continue in 2014. Though economic growth decelerated a little bit to 6 percent in the H1, the slowdown is part of normal economic adjustment after some economic overheating. Its growth impetus will also be maintained.
Reconstruction or rebuilding projects to recover damages from the natural disasters are rather likely to spur the economy, and the service and manufacturing industries will continue driving economic growth together,” it said.
However, NICE Ratings did cite the manufacturing industry’s resurgence. Manufacturing grew by an average of 7.9 percent from 2010 to 2013, which outpaced the 6.7 percent growth for the services sector.
“In order to break away from the private consumption-led growth and pursue a new growth model jointly led by investment and consumption, the government promoted manufacturing while making it a priority to enhance public governance and infrastructure,” it said.
NICE Ratings also credited the Philippines for its strong external liquidity, stable financial markets, and much improved fiscal situation.
“In the face of the sell-off of financial assets in emerging markets since May 2013, the Philippines’ financial market remained relatively stable, thanks to the strong current account position and abundant liquidity in the financial market,” it said.
NICE Ratings noted the Philippines’ debt management was sound, with outstanding debt falling from a peak of 74.4 percent of GDP in 2004 to 49.2 percent last year.
It also credited the BSP with properly managing inflation, citing recent adjustments in monetary policy setting and new regulations to prevent price bubbles in the real estate sector.
“The real estate market overheating is still under manageable level because housing prices started rising in full swing as recently as the 2Q 2013 and the central bank has strengthened monitoring already,” NICE Ratings said.
The last credit-rating action from NICE Ratings was done in February 2013 when it adjusted its outlook on the previous rating of BB+ from “stable” to “positive.”
The Philippines has already received investment grade status from major international ratings firms Fitch Ratings, Japan Credit Rating Agency, Moody’s Investors Service, R&I, and Standard & Poor’s.
BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima welcomed the upgrade by NICE Ratings.
“As far as the BSP is concerned, the latest investment grade is another acknowledgment of efforts to maintain an inflation environment and a financial system conducive for business and supportive of sustainable growth,” Tetangco said.

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