Philippine economy picks up in second quarter

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The manufacturing sector helped to offset a slight slowdown in services

The Philippine economy grew faster than expected in the three months to June, figures have shown, expanding by 6.4% from a year earlier.

Most analysts had forecast growth for the period to come in at 6.1%, and the figure was up on the growth of 5.6% seen in the first quarter of the year.

Growth was boosted by consumer spending and the manufacturing sector.

Overall, the data showed the nation's economy growing up at its fastest pace in more than a year.

Weaker government spending in the April-to-June quarter affected the country's important services sector, but an expansion in exports - together with growth in the nation's agricultural sector - contributed to the positive economic report.

"We are pleased with the result," the country's finance secretary, Cesar Purisima, told the BBC, "even if it is a little bit below our forecast range."

Mr Purisima said he believed the nation's full-year growth target of between 6.5% and 7.5% was still in range.

The Philippines is a popular investment destination but it has been criticised over issues including government corruption and difficulties associated with doing business in the country.

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Boosting investment in the Philippines has been a priority for the government

But Mr Purisima said recent structural and financial reforms should pave the way for better business confidence and greater foreign investment.

"We just recently approved our legislation that will now open up the banking sector completely to foreign investment of up to 100%," he explained.

The Philippines is one of the fastest-growing economies in South East Asia together with Malaysia.

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