Central Visayas fastest growing economy in Philippines

Central Visayas fastest growing economy in Philippines
SunStar Local News GPX

CENTRAL Visayas was the fastest growing economy among all 17 regions in the country in 2023, with a growth rate of 7.3 percent, and remains the biggest economy in the Visayas and Mindanao.

This was despite the challenges that the region faced last year, including the threat of African swine fever (ASF) affecting the P11 billion hog industry.

Director Ariel Florendo of the Philippine Statistics Authority Central Visayas (PSA 7) said the gross regional domestic product (GRDP) was estimated to be valued at P1.381 trillion from P1.287 trillion in 2022.

GRDP measures the economic performance of a region from the perspective of producers of goods and services, encompassing the value of goods and services produced during the mentioned periods

The region’s GRDP increased from P1.135 trillion in 2020 to P1.196 trillion in 2021.

This was announced during the economic performance dissemination event on Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Cebu City, which was attended by officers from the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and representatives from other government offices.

Western Visayas followed Central Visayas with its growth rate at 7.2 percent, with Ilocos Region following closely at 7.1 percent. Cordillera Administrative Region ranked fourth with a growth rate of 6.9 percent, while Davao Region held the fifth position with a growth rate of 6.1 percent.

Soccsksargen’s economy experienced the slowest growth at 3.5 percent.


Florendo said the services sector mainly drove the Central Visayas economy, contributing P967.05 billion or 70 percent of the region’s GRDP.

Following this, the industry sector contributed 23.4 percent, totaling P323.4 billion, and lastly, the agriculture sector, forestry and fishing sector made up only 6.6 percent of the region’s economy, valued at P90.72 billion.

Based on the subsectors, the wholesale, retail trade, and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles contributed 21.9 percent of the economy; followed by manufacturing at 14.5 percent; then financial and insurance activities at 9.7 percent.

Additionally, all regions in the country were driven by the services sector, except for Calabarzon, whose top contributor was the industry sector. No region was predominantly agricultural in 2023.

Carlo Gabriel Simbajon, chief economic development specialist of Neda 7, remarked that the services sector provides most of the region’s resources, which was evident during the Covid-19 pandemic when most businesses were shut down due to the restrictions.

According to a PSA 7 report in April 2021, the region’s economy shrank by 9.9 percent in 2020. It then saw a growth of 5.4 percent the following year and then experienced a 7.6 percent growth rate in 2022.

Worth celebrating

Although Central Visayas boasts the highest growth rate among all regions in 2023, this growth rate is lower than the growth it experienced in 2022, which reached 7.6 percent.

However, national statistician Claire Dennis Mapa of the PSA central office, said this achievement should still be celebrated, adding that the average growth rate among all regions (or the gross domestic product at the national level) stands at 5.5 percent.

Biggest in VisMin

Additionally, Central Visayas remains the biggest economy outside Luzon, comprising 6.6 percent of the national gross domestic product (GDP) in 2023.

The National Capital Region (NCR) accounts for 31.2 percent of the GDP, followed by Calabarzon at 14.7 percent, and Central Luzon at 11 percent.

After Central Visayas, the fifth largest economy in the country is Western Visayas, accounting for 4.9 percent of GDP.

In 2022, Central Visayas was also the fourth largest contributor to the national economy, accounting for 6.5 percent of the national GDP, following NCR, which had a 31.4 percent contribution; Calabarzon, 14.8 percent; and Central Luzon, 11 percent.

ASF threat

Meanwhile, a regional agriculture officer said ASF did not significantly affect the overall performance of the economy of Central Visayas in 2023.

Elvin Milleza, chief of planning of the Department of Agriculture Central Visayas (DA 7), said the hog production in the region mostly came from commercial farms, which strictly implement biosecurity measures.

He, however, did not specify the figures on commercially raised pigs and those coming from backyard farmers.

In March 2023, Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Mary Rose Vincoy declared that ASF had first been detected in Carcar City in southern Cebu.

However, in the following month, former Cebu City veterinarian Dr. Alice Utlang said the virus causing ASF was actually initially detected in Barangay Vito in Minglanilla on Nov. 16, 2022.

In a SunStar Cebu report in May 2023, then Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries head and now Cebu City veterinarian Dr. Jessica Maribojoc said the hog industry in the entire Cebu province is worth roughly P10.9 billion.


Mapa emphasized the importance of understanding the region’s economic performance for assessing regional development, allocating resources, formulating policies, guiding business decisions, and comparing regional economic performance.

For instance, it pinpoints the sectors and subsectors where the region excels, providing households with insights into potential industries for livelihood opportunities.

Additionally, PSA 7 chief statistical specialist Leopoldo Alfanta said it serves as a tool for evidence-based policymaking, empowering government agencies to make informed decisions to address the challenges and opportunities within the region.

“It provides the policymakers and the rest of the government with vital signs of [the] economy’s health,” he added.

The four provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor constitute Central Visayas. Cebu City is acknowledged as the epicenter of economic and commercial activities in the region. (KJF)


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