Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Wednesday, January 18, 2023.

READ: PH growth seen at 6.5% this year

The Philippine economy is forecast to grow by around 6.5 percent this year because of the expected slowdown of the global economy, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said. Diokno made the statement as the Philippine government expects a strong full-year gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2023, most likely much faster than its growth target of 6.5 to 7.5 percent. In a speech during a luncheon hosted for President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Philippine chief executive officers (CEOs), Diokno said the country's bustling manufacturing sector, record-low unemployment, and stable and resilient banking system can alleviate buffers against external headwinds, all indicating a resilient economy.

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READ: Marcos: Asia-Pacific should reject 'Cold War' mentality

Meanwhile the President said countries in the Asia-Pacific region should reject a "Cold War" mentality to enhance stability and prosperity in the region. Speaking during a luncheon hosted for him and Philippine chief executive officers by the economic team in Davos, Switzerland, the President also said countries in the Asia-Pacific are facing pressure to take sides as a result of intense geopolitical tension in the region. But he said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies are very well committed to the idea that they cannot return to the Cold War formula, in which they have to choose whether to be under the Soviet Union or the United States spheres of influence. And that puts the Philippines in a very precarious position, being on the frontline of this conflict, Marcos noted, saying "this is the very fine line that the Philippines has to choose."

READ: Importers bring in 5,000 MT of onions

ONLY 5,000 metric tons of imported onions will arrive in the country after importers did not avail of all the 21,060 MT of onions earlier authorized by the Department of Agriculture (DA). In an interview with The Manila Times on Tuesday, farmer's group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) president Rosendo So said importers only applied for 5,000 MT of imported onions after the deadline for application ended on Jan. 13, 2023.

READ: USAid launches P1B project for SMEs

THE United States Agency for International Development (USAid) has launched a five-year P1 billion or $18 million partnership with the Philippine government to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) transition into e-commerce ventures. The US Embassy in the Philippines said the Strengthening Private Enterprises for the Digital Economy (Speed) project was launched on January 11. It aims to expand the participation of SMEs in the country's "emerging e-commerce ecosystem by improving their capacity to adopt digital technologies," the embassy said on Tuesday.

BUSINESS: AMRO revises PH growth forecasts for 2022, 2023

Topping business, Philippine economic growth likely accelerated by 7.3 percent in 2022, the Asean+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) said on Tuesday, faster than the 6.9 percent previously forecast. The revision falls within the government's 6.5- to 7.5-percent goal for the year. Gross domestic product growth (GDP) as of the end of the third quarter was already above target at 7.7 percent. Official full-year results are expected to be announced before the end of this month. AMRO's 2023 estimate, meanwhile, was trimmed to 6.2 percent from 6.3 percent, which was described as a normalization in line with a weakening global environment. It remains within the government target of 6.0-7.0 percent.

SPORTS: Malixi drops to 26th after two rounds

In sports, Filipino golf teen sensation Rianne Malixi fell to 26th place after two rounds of action in the Annika Invitational at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday (Manila time). The 15-year-old Malixi played relatively well but her even-par 73 for the day dropped her from 13th to 26th place, in a tie with three other players.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Rigoberto Tiglao, Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, and Francisco Tatad are today's front page columnists. Tiglao reports of a seizure of a nickle ore shipment, Fr. Aquino discusses on why people should study philosophy, and Tatad discusses the recent destabilization issues within the military.

Today's editorial calls for a more realistic messaging on the country's economy. Read the full version in the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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On behalf of The Manila Times, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting.