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Doing Business in the Philippines

Doing business in the Philippines: The Philippines, an emerging market in Southeast Asia, offers a plethora of opportunities for businesses and investors from around the world. Setting up a business in the Philippines involves understanding the local regulations, culture, and corporate structures, as well as navigating various sectors such as agriculture, tourism, and technology.

Key Takeaways

  • The Philippines offers ample opportunities for businesses across various sectors, driven by a growing economy and infrastructure development.
  • Understanding local regulations, corporate structures, and the hiring process is crucial for successful business operations in the Philippines.
  • Navigating contract enforcement complexities is vital for investors planning to enter the Philippine market.

Philippines: An Emerging Market

Philippines Business Guides

The Philippines has exhibited remarkable growth in recent years, solidifying its status as an emerging market with strong macroeconomic fundamentals. In 2022, the country achieved a GDP growth rate of 7.6%, placing it among the world’s fastest-growing large emerging markets, alongside nations such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Vietnam, and India.

  • The Philippines has a diverse and robust economy, with several thriving sectors driving its growth. One of the primary industries contributing to this success is the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, which has become a significant source of revenue and employment. Other key areas of the economy include real estate, tourism, finance, and insurance markets.
  • Despite experiencing a 9.51% contraction in GDP during the pandemic in 2020, the Philippines is expected to rebound swiftly. Companies operating in the country are adapting to shifts introduced during the pandemic, such as increased digitalization, widening wealth gaps, and the emergence of new consumer segments. This resilience and adaptability contribute to the country’s favorable position in the global economy.

In the future, the Philippines is anticipated to witness significant growth in its real estate sector. The emergence of green real estate aligns with the country’s goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030. This expansion offers attractive investment opportunities and demonstrates a commitment to sustainable development.

Infrastructure Development in the Philippines

The Philippine government has been focusing on improving the country’s infrastructure to support economic growth and attract more investments. Infrastructure development has become a priority in recent years under the Duterte administration, which has initiated the ambitious Build, Build, Build (BBB) program.

Launched in 2017, the BBB program aims to accelerate infrastructure development in the country through various public-private partnership (PPP) projects. According to the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, infrastructure spending has exceeded five percent, overcoming several implementation challenges in the first half of the plan period.

Some of the key infrastructure projects under the BBB program include:

  • Transportation: expansion and modernization of airports, seaports, and railways
  • Utilities: improvements in water, telecommunications, and power distribution facilities
  • Public works: construction and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, and flood control projects

These infrastructure projects have been designed to enhance connectivity and mobility throughout the country, making it easier for businesses to access markets and resources. Moreover, they are expected to create job opportunities and improve people’s quality of life.

The Philippine Government emphasizes the importance of reducing bureaucracy to facilitate seamless implementation of these projects. This approach contributes to a more favorable business environment, particularly for foreign investors looking into the Philippines as a potential market.

Considering the growing interest in infrastructure development and the government’s commitment to creating a more conducive environment for doing business in the country, the Philippines appears to be on track to becoming an attractive destination for local and foreign investments.

In conclusion, infrastructure development in the Philippines is playing a pivotal role in the country’s overall economic growth and long-term sustainability. With continued support from the government and private sector partners, the nation’s infrastructure landscape is expected to witness significant progress in the coming years.

Understanding the Philippine Economy

The Philippine economy has shown resilience and growth amidst challenging economic conditions and rising geopolitical tensions in East Asia. In 2021, it achieved a growth rate of 5.7%, rebounding from a 9.5% pandemic-induced recession in 2020. This growth rate surpassed the government’s target range of 5 to 5.5%.

There are several sectors contributing to the progress of the Philippine Economy.

Real Estate and Construction

These sectors have experienced significant growth in recent years, driven by the demand for housing and infrastructure projects. The government’s “Build, Build, Build” program has been a catalyst for the construction sector, encouraging both private and public investments.

Services Sector

This sector, which includes banking, tourism, and IT-BPO (Information Technology – Business Process Outsourcing), contributes significantly to the Philippine economy. The country has established itself as a leader in the global IT-BPO market, offering high-quality services at competitive costs.


Historically, agriculture has been a vital part of the country’s economy, providing livelihood to millions of Filipinos. Efforts to modernize and diversify agriculture are underway, aiming to make it more sustainable and profitable in the long run.


The manufacturing sector is also an essential part of the Philippines’ economic growth. The country has fostered a favorable environment for foreign investments, resulting in increased production in various industries, such as electronics, automotive, and food processing.

In terms of ease of doing business, the Philippines experienced a significant improvement in its global ranking. In the 2020 World Bank Doing Business report, the country ranked 95th out of 190 economies with a score of 62.8, a significant jump from its previous ranking at 124 and score of 57.68 in 2019. This improvement demonstrates the country’s commitment to fostering a conducive environment for starting and operating businesses.

However, despite the optimistic outlook, challenges remain in achieving inclusive and sustained growth. Addressing these challenges is crucial to unlocking the full potential of the Philippine economy and maintaining its role as a key player in East Asia.

Key Statistics on the Philippine Economy

Doing business in the Philippines requires understanding of the economy there. Here are some key statistics from the World Bank.

GDP$435.67 billion (nominal; 2023 est.)
GDP Growth7.6% (2022)
GDP per Capita3,623.29(currentUS)
Unemployment Rate2.24%
Inflation Rate5.82% (2023)
Trade Balance-$65.69 billion (2023)
Major ExportsElectronics, garments, semiconductors, processed foods
Major ImportsMineral fuels, machinery and equipment, electronic components, chemicals
Poverty Rate3.0% (2021)
Human Development Index (HDI)0.699 (medium)
CurrencyPhilippine Peso (₱)
Exchange Rate (₱/USD)54.75

Business Culture in the Philippines

Business culture in the Philippines is characterized by a unique blend of Eastern and Western influences. Filipinos are known for their warm and hospitable nature, and building strong interpersonal relationships is fundamental in business interactions. When conducting business in the Philippines, it is crucial to understand and respect these cultural nuances:

Relationship Building

Establishing trust and rapport is a cornerstone of business culture in the Philippines. Building strong personal relationships, known as “kapwa,” is essential before diving into business discussions. It is common to engage in small talk, share meals, and attend social events as part of relationship-building efforts. Patience and the willingness to invest time in relationship development are highly valued.

Hierarchy and Respect

The Philippines has a hierarchical business structure where seniority and age are respected. Addressing individuals with appropriate titles and showing deference to elders is customary. Decision-making may involve consultations with superiors, and it is essential to navigate the hierarchy with tact and respect.

Family-Centered Values

Filipino culture places a strong emphasis on family, and many businesses in the Philippines are family-owned or family-oriented. Understanding the dynamics of family involvement in business operations can be crucial when negotiating partnerships or collaborations.

Communication Styles

Filipinos tend to have indirect communication styles (not uncommon in the Asia Pacific region), and it is essential to read between the lines during discussions. Building relationships depends on this, even when major decisions are involved. With this communication style, non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language, play a significant role in conveying messages throughout the hierarchical culture of the company. Open and direct criticism is often avoided to maintain harmonious relationships and ensuring that doing business in the Philippines run smoothly.

Business Attire

Business attire in the Philippines is generally formal, with suits and ties for men and conservative clothing for women being the norm. Dressing professionally is a sign of respect and is expected during business meetings and formal occasions, even for foreign businesses and their personnel who may be traveling.


Giving and receiving gifts is a common practice in Filipino business culture. However, gifts should be thoughtful and appropriate, and it is customary to reciprocate gestures of generosity. Avoid extravagant gifts, as modesty is appreciated.


While punctuality is important in business, it is more relaxed in the Philippines compared to some Western cultures. It is advisable to be on time for meetings but be prepared for some flexibility in scheduling. Business etiquette in the Philippines does tolerate some flexibility here, even though business etiquette in many other countries may not (something foreign businesses may not be used to).

Work-Life Balance

The Filipino approach to work-life balance is holistic, with an emphasis on enjoying life outside of work. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance among employees is viewed positively.

Doing business in the Philippines – and more importantly business success in this prime strategic business location – requires an appreciation of the local culture, including the importance of relationships, hierarchy, and indirect communication. Building trust and demonstrating respect for Filipino customs and values are essential for successful business endeavors in this vibrant and diverse Southeast Asian nation.

Investing in Various Sectors

The Philippines offers a diverse range of investment opportunities across multiple sectors facilitated by a growing economy and a skilled workforce. This section will discuss the various sectors that are attracting investors to the country, including natural resources, information technology, and business process management.

Natural Resources

The Philippines is rich in natural resources, making it a viable investment destination for the mining, agriculture, and forestry industries. The country has an abundant supply of minerals such as gold, copper, nickel, and chromite, providing ample opportunities for exploration and extraction. Moreover, the agriculture sector accounts for a significant portion of the country’s GDP and provides a stable source of income for millions of Filipinos engaged in farming, fishing, and livestock production.

Information Technology

 The Philippines has emerged as an IT hub in Southeast Asia. The government has prioritized the development of information technology and broadband infrastructure to facilitate the growth of the IT industry, attracting foreign investors looking to tap into the country’s growing market. With a vast pool of English-speaking tech-savvy professionals, the country has gained prominence as a preferred location for IT outsourcing and offshore software development services.

Business Process Management

The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector in the Philippines has experienced significant growth in the past few years. As seen in a PwC report, the country ranks highly as a choice destination for companies looking to outsource operational functions such as customer support, accounting, and human resources. Key factors driving this growth include competitive labor costs and a supportive government providing tax incentives and infrastructure to BPO providers.

To summarize, the Philippines presents a wide array of opportunities for investors across different sectors. The wealth of natural resources, growth in the information technology industry, and the strong performance of the business process management sector make the country an attractive option for investors seeking to capitalize on its potential.

Decoding Corporate Structures in the Philippines

When venturing into the Philippine market, understanding the corporate structures plays a crucial role in making informed decisions. This section will provide an overview of the main types of business entities and the Revised Corporation Code governing them.

Corporations are the most common form of business entity in the Philippines. They are governed by the Revised Corporation Code and enjoy legal personality, thereby granting them rights, obligations, and liabilities separate from their shareholders. Philippine corporations can either be classified as domestic or foreign:

  • Domestic corporations are established by Filipino nationals or foreign investors and have at least five incorporators. Foreign equity ownership is subject to certain limitations and guidelines, depending on the industry.
  • Foreign corporations are those whose main headquarters are located outside the Philippines and wish to engage in business activities in the country. They can register either as a branch office or a subsidiary company.

Branch Offices of foreign corporations are required to obtain a license to operate in the Philippines. They are deemed extensions of the parent company, meaning that the foreign corporation bears all liabilities arising from the branch’s operations. To register a branch office, the foreign corporation must submit an application to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with the necessary documents, such as articles of incorporation and a board resolution authorizing the establishment of the branch.

Benefits of Doing Business in the Philippines

graphic showing benefits of doing business in the Philippines

Doing business in the Philippines offers numerous benefits for both local and foreign entrepreneurs. Here is a list of key advantages:

  • Strong Economic Growth: The Philippines has experienced robust economic growth in recent years, making it an attractive market for various industries and sectors.
  • Strategic Location: Situated in Southeast Asia, the Philippines serves as a gateway to the larger ASEAN market, offering access to over 600 million consumers.
  • Large and Young Workforce: The country has a large pool of young, English-speaking talent, making it a suitable location for businesses looking for a skilled workforce.
  • English Proficiency: English is one of the official languages, simplifying communication for international businesses and facilitating customer service operations.
  • Supportive Government Initiatives: The government offers various incentives and programs to attract foreign investment, including tax breaks, fiscal incentives, and investment promotion agencies.
  • Booming BPO Industry: The Philippines is a leading destination for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services, with a mature and rapidly growing outsourcing industry.
  • Rich Natural Resources: Abundant natural resources, such as minerals, agriculture, and fisheries, offer opportunities for businesses in these sectors.
  • Rapidly Expanding Infrastructure: Ongoing infrastructure developments, including roads, airports, and ports, enhance connectivity and logistics capabilities for businesses.
  • Thriving Tourism Sector: The Philippines is a popular tourist destination, creating opportunities in the hospitality, travel, and related industries.
  • Growing Middle Class: A rising middle class is driving consumer spending, providing a ready market for various goods and services.

The Philippines presents a compelling business environment with a combination of economic growth, a skilled workforce, government support, and strategic advantages that make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Taxation When Doing Business in the Philippines

Businesses operating in the Philippines need to be aware of the country’s taxation system, which includes various taxes and regulatory requirements. Key points to consider include the Value Added Tax (VAT) at a standard rate of 12%, income tax for corporations, which is currently at a flat rate of 30% for resident foreign corporations, and various tax incentives provided under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and other investment promotion agencies. Understanding the deadlines for filing tax returns and complying with annual financial reporting obligations is crucial. Additionally, businesses should be aware of the importance of accurate record-keeping and compliance with transfer pricing regulations to avoid potential issues with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Staying updated on any changes in tax laws and consulting with local tax experts can help businesses navigate the intricacies of the Philippines’ taxation system efficiently and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

As for taxation, the following guidelines apply to the different types of corporate structures:

 Entity TypeTax Treatment
Domestic CorporationSubject to corporate income tax (CIT) on worldwide income
Foreign CorporationSubject to CIT only on income derived from sources within the Philippines
Branch OfficeSubject to branch profit remittance tax on profit remittances to the parent company

Lastly, it is essential to be aware of the regulatory environment in the Philippines. The Revised Corporation Code, taking effect in 2019, offers a more flexible and investor-friendly framework. It removes the minimum capital requirement, introduces the concept of “one-person corporations,” and allows for a perpetual corporate term, among other improvements.

Ready to Start Doing Business in the Philippines?

In conclusion, understanding the different types of Philippine entities and the Revised Corporation Code that governs them provides a vital foundation for doing business in the Philippines. It is advisable to consult with professional advisors to determine the most suitable corporate structure for your specific needs.

Travis is a global business development advisor. He has spent the last 14 years supporting business establishment and development in North America, Southeast Asia, and throughout the world. With multiple degrees from the University of Oregon, Travis currently splits his time between the US, and Bali, Indonesia. At RemotePad, Travis writes about remote work, hiring internationally and PEO/EOR business models.

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