Overview of business in the Philippines

Overview of business in the Philippines

The second most populous country in Southeast Asia after Indonesia, the Philippines consistently has one of the fastest economic growth in the region and the world. With a high level of proficiency in English and a population eager to work abroad or with foreigners, the Philippines' economy is also rapidly advancing in global services and trade.

Map of the Philippines
Map of the Philippines
  • Official country name: Republic of the Philippines
  • Capital: Manila
  • Total Area: 300,000 km²
  • Government: Unitary presidential constitutional republic
  • Currency: Peso, ₱ – PHP (Filipino: piso)
  • Drives on the: right
  • Calling Code: +63
  • Internet TLD: .ph

Demographics

  • Population: 100,981,437 (2015 Census)
  • Population Density: 336.60/km²
  • Official Languages: Filipino, English
  • HDI: 0.682 (medium)
  • Ethnic Groups: (2010)
    • 33.8% Visayan
    • 27.7% Tagalog
    • 9.8% Ilocano
    • 6.8% Bicolano
    • 5.1% Moro
    • 3.1% Kapampangan
    • 1.7% Igorot
    • 1.4% Pangasinense
    • 1.2% Chinese
    • 1.1% Zamboangueño
    • 6.8% others

The Philippine business environment

Coat of arms of the Philippines
Coat of arms of the Philippines

After decades of political difficulties and isolation, the Philippines has taken a turn for the better and undertaken a complete transformation of its politics and economy. Having capitalized on its population's proficiency with English language and overseas workers, and led by its largest companies, the Philippines has now become one of the world's most dynamic emerging market.

In support of the economic environment, taxes in the Philippines are relatively low compared to the rest of the world, though not as low as other countries of Southeast Asia.

Philippines growth infographic
Philippines growth infographic: comparison of economic growth with ASEAN-6 countries

Key economic data of the Philippines

  • GDP (PPP): USD 873.966 Billion (2017 Estimate)
  • GDP per Capita (PPP): USD 8,223
  • GDP (Nominal): USD 348.593 Billion (2017 Estimate)
  • GDP per Capita (Nominal): USD 3,280
  • GDP Growth: 6.9% (2016)
  • GDP by sector: (2015)
    • agriculture: 9.49%
    • industry: 33.48%
    • services: 57.03%
  • Labor force: 64.80 Million (April 2015)
  • Labor force by occupation: (2012 Estimate)
    • services: 53%
    • agriculture: 32%
    • industry: 15%
  • Unemployment: 4.7% (October 2016)
  • Inflation: 3.4% (April 2017)

Key sectors of the Philippines

The English proficiency of Filipinos has enabled the country to become a global leader for the Business Process Outsourcing - BPO - sector, even surpassing India. A key to the Philippines' economic growth, BPO brings large revenues and investments from abroad in the Philippines.

Besides, to cope with the country's particular sensitivity to disasters and environmental issues, the Philippines has resolutely engaged towards sustainability. Profiting from its natural subterranean resource, the Philippines has notably become a global leader in geothermal energy.

A relatively small industry, tourism is nonetheless on the rise thanks to smart ways to promote the Philippines, enabling a growing amount of visitors to explore Manila, Boracay or the Philippine UNESCO world heritage sites.

Main industries of the Philippines

  • electronics assembly
  • aerospace
  • business process outsourcing
  • food manufacturing
  • shipbuilding
  • chemicals
  • textiles
  • garments
  • metals
  • petroleum refining
  • fishing
  • rice

The Philippines' large and active digital population

With the second largest population in Southeast Asia behind Indonesia, the Philippines has one of the most active population on social media. Its large digital community and penetration of mobile devices provide a new medium to revolutionize underdeveloped industries like financial services and overseas Filipino workers remittances through new FinTech startups.

Digital in Philippines 2018
Numbers of Internet, social media and mobile users in the Philippines in 2018

The Philippines for professionals and work

With its tropical climate and friendly population, the Philippines provides a great environment for foreigners willing to work in the country. Salaries are not as high as in other countries of the region, but the authorities are committed to not only improve the country's economy but also to develop more sustainable cities, especially in Manila.

Philippines trade data

Though it is impacted by revenues from the Business Process Outsourcing sector, the Philippines' export rely a lot on commodities, but also on manufactures goods for the electronics, transport and garments sectors.

Exports: USD 58.827 Billion (2015 Estimate)

Export Goods:

  • semiconductors and electronic products
  • transport equipment
  • garments
  • copper products
  • petroleum products
  • coconut oil
  • fruits

Main Export Partners: (2013 Estimate)

  • Japan 21.3%
  • United States 14.7%
  • China 12.4%
  • Hong Kong 8.0%
  • Singapore 7.3%
  • South Korea 6.0%
  • Germany 4.1%
  • Taiwan 3.5%
  • Thailand 3.4%
  • Indonesia 3.1%

Imports: USD 71.067 Billion (2015 Estimate)

Import Goods:

  • electronic products
  • mineral fuels
  • machinery and transport equipment
  • iron and steel
  • textile fabrics
  • grains
  • chemicals
  • plastic

Main Import Partners: (2013 Estimate)

  • China 12.9%
  • United States 11.2%
  • Japan 8.4%
  • Taiwan 7.8%
  • South Korea 7.7%
  • Singapore 6.8%
  • Thailand 5.4%
  • Saudi Arabia 4.5%
  • Indonesia 4.5%
  • Germany 3.8%

Latest business resources for the Philippines

6 free maps of the Philippines

Free maps of the Philippines

Some maps of the Philippines can be useful to illustrate ideas or projects for your website or blog, or to create your own maps. Here is a collection of copyright or royalty free, labelled and blank maps of the Philippines to be used directly as is, or to be elaborated upon to create beautiful modern maps to suit your purposes. Continue reading

Top 30 Facebook pages of the Philippines

Top Facebook pages in the Philippines

With about 60 million Facebook users, the Philippines has one of the largest and most active population on the social network. It is therefore no surprise that it also counts numerous business pages on Facebook gathering millions of Filipino followers. Here are 30 of the most popular Facebook pages in the Philippines. Continue reading

Philippines: 5 infographics on population, wealth, economy

Philippines infographics

After trailing regional economies for years, the Philippines is now often called a new Asian “tiger” with one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This series of infographics presents key demographic and economic data on the Philippines, as well as some perspectives with other ASEAN and world-leading countries. Continue reading

Top 50 Blogs from the Philippines 2017

Top 50 Blogs from the Philippines 2017

The Philippines is one of the most populated countries in Southeast Asia with a very active digital population. The following Top 50 blogs from the Philippines was created to regroup the archipel’s most popular blogs and help anyone find and learn from these thought-leaders and trendsetters in the Philippines and the broader region. Continue reading

Top 10 e-commerce sites in the Philippines 2017

Top e-commerce sites in the Philippines

With a dynamic economy and a large population proficient with digital technologies, the Philippines is a fast-growing market for e-commerce in Southeast Asia. Several websites and digital applications are already fighting for market share, with global, regional and national players trying to come up to the leader. Continue reading

International expansion tips from the Philippines

Tips for international expansion from the Philippines

Growing a company beyond its original country is a dream for many business owners and managers. Relating their experiences from expanding their businesses out of their original base in the Philippines, two business leaders share their stories, insights and tips for those interested in growing their companies abroad. Continue reading

FinTech startups in the Philippines [list]

FinTech startups in the Philippines

The Philippines has a large population and the particularity of an important community of overseas workers. Together they make the Philippines a particularly attractive market for financial technologies – FinTech – companies, be they startups or large companies, engaging to conquer already dynamic markets. Continue reading

The 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines [photos]

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines

With its tropical environment and unique blend of indigenous and Western culture the Philippines regroups several sites classified in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Breath-taking rice terraces, colonial remains and a host of natural and marine parks make up the six sites recognized for their value to mankind in the Philippines. Continue reading

Infographic: insights on the Philippine IT-BPO industry

Insights on the Philippine IT-BPO industry

The Philippines’ information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry is a driving force in the country’s economy. After having been booming for years, it is still expanding in different key cities. Thanks to its highly diversified and competitive offer, the sector is one of the most dynamic in the Philippines. Continue reading

A Filipina fashion designer’s success story and tips

Bea Valdes: woman fashion designer from the Philippines

Successful luxury companies are not common in Southeast Asia. This female designer from the Philippines nonetheless proves that it is possible to succeed in the luxury industry. Through her creative approach, traditional crafts from the Philippines now gain international recognition in luxury jewelry and accessories. Continue reading

Philippines flag
List of the 30 companies in the Philippines PSEi index, with logo, sector and stock code