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Economy grows 5.8% in 2015

The skyline of Makati City, the heart of Manila's business district. Crissa Tenorio/CC BY-NC-ND

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) — The domestic economy grew at a pace of 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, bringing the full-year growth of 5.8 percent, the government announced Tuesday.

Last year's economic expansion was slower than the 6.1-percent growth in 2014. It also fell short of the Aquino administration's target of 7 to 8 percent.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the 2015 growth gave a six-year average of 6.2 percent, the highest since the late 1970s.

The fourth quarter growth, meanwhile, was expectedly the highest quarterly growth for the year. Yet it is still slower than the 6.6 percent posted in the same period in 2014.

The Philippines's growth in the past five years. Trading Economics

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The country's growth—based on gross domestic product (GDP) or the total value of all goods and services produced—while slower than expected still outpaced most of its peers.

The Philippines lagged behind Vietnam, which led Southeast Asia with a 6.68-percent growth last year due to strong exports and record foreign direct investments. China's economy, meanwhile, dipped to a 25-year low of 6.9 percent in 2015.

Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, who recently resigned from the NEDA for another government post, said the Philippines has been "traversing the higher growth path, building on solid efforts by both public and private sectors."

"For 2015, among the major developing countries, the Philippines [was] likely among the fastest next to India, the People's Republic of China and Vietnam," Balisacan said at a press conference.

Despite failing below forecasts, Balisacan called the economy's performance "very encouraging."

"Ths growth is respectable, given the difficult fiscal environment, the onset of El Niño and the challenges in government spending in the first semester," he said.

The Philippines's quarterly growth. Trading Economics

The Philippine Statistics Authority said the fourth quarter GDP was driven by the services sector that grew by 7.4 percent from 5.6 percent. Industry followed as a major growth driver, decelerating to 6.8 percent from 9.1 percent.

Agriculture, meanwhile, contracted by 0.3 percent from a growth of 4.2 percent the previous year.

Services was also main driver of the full-year economy, accelerating by 6.7 percent from 5.9 percent the previous year.

Industry and the entire agriculture sectors decelerated with 6.0 percent and 0.2 percent, from 7.9 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said late last year that the government is setting a  7.5- to 8.5-percent goal in 2016 for now.

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