The trillion-peso Davao regional economy



The Philippine Statistics Authority’s recent announcement of regional economic performance shows that the Davao region gave Mindanao its first trillion-peso regional economy. 
The Davao region, composed of the five Davao provinces and the island's most populous city, clocked a 6.7 percent growth rate in 2023 to achieve ₱1.02 trillion in value, higher than the ₱954.23 billion in 2022.

While 2023’s growth rates were slightly lower than 2022’s 8.2 percent, Davao is the only regional economy in Mindanao that grew faster than the country’s 5.5 percent GDP in 2023, and joins NCR, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Central Visayas and Western Visayas as among the country's trillion-dollar economies. 
The service sector of Davao took the lion’s share of the economy’s value at 60.9 percent, with industry coming second at 24.6 percent and agriculture, forestry, and fisheries at 14.5 percent. 

This impressive growth is a testament to the high level of partnership between the private and public sectors to continue to push programs to drive investment and trade that increases the size and broadens the base of the economy. The Davao Regional Development Council's efforts to keep the eye on the ball of continuous growth while being cognizant of means to overcome challenges deserves to be acknowledged.

The Davao region is definitely blessed with steady weather, and a resource base and talent pool that can drive growth. How these can be further harnessed are seen in the 2023-2028 regional development plan. Those of you who are interested in investing in this region and the rest of Mindanao would do well to download a copy of this plan.

The challenge is raising this growth further by harnessing opportunities and addressing new challenges. We will need to broaden growth further by encouraging investments in key sectors that impact the lives of a good number of citizens. Off hand, this includes agriculture, fishery, forestry and minerals where many Davao residents, particularly those living outside its urban centers are directly and indirectly engaged. 

Encouraging innovative, sustainable and responsible growth in these and other sectors through hard investments in manufacturing and processing farm produce and raw minerals will create long term jobs for more people especially the young who will inherit the economy. This will also provide for materials we need and use, such as cement and steel for our housing and transport needs, frozen and processed food items for our own growing local consumption and export demand, even paper for packaging that will reduce our use of single use plastics. 

We have recently passed policies to drive innovation, boosting our creative industries, innovative startup legislation, the green lanes for investments in place to make these happen. I have written much about these in past columns. Having private sector engagement will be vital to help push the implementation at the regional level.

Broadening the growth taps the talent and energy of those involved, especially the young so that they can participate in, contribute to and benefit from the growth. After all, they are the future of our economy and will continue the growth beyond today. When everyone grows, we all grow even higher than that P1.02 trillion and even exceed the growth of other regions and countries. Growing continuously over the years builds the future.

In succeeding columns I will take a deeper dive into other sectors to examine perspectives on how to capitalize on opportunities and address challenges to drive the growth further.