The Philippines is comprised of some 7,500 different islands with only 2,000 of them inhabited and a further 5,000 still unnamed on global maps. The archipelago occupies a strategic geographic gateway in to the Asian market, within only 4.5 hours flight of all Southeast Asian capital cities. Today the Philippines produces and exports more coconuts than any other country worldwide, totalling roughly 19.5 million ‘buko’ per annum!

HSBC has predicted that the Philippines could become the 16th biggest economy by 2050 due to its rapidly improving situation. The 21st century has witnessed the development of the country from an agricultural to a service-based economy. The government now actively encourages foreign investment having introduced a liberal program of both fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, making the Philippines a good possibility for expanding businesses and start-ups. There is a large educated workforce and the official business language is English, making communication easy.

However, doing business in the Philippines has many challenges. The Ease of Doing Business index consistently places the country deep into the lower half of the scoreboard. Obstacles include a poor bureaucratic system, restrictions on foreign ownership in some sectors and restricted participation in public procurement. Corruption is also a prominent issue though the situation is steadily improving.

Culturally the Filipino population is a blend of Malays, Hindus, Arabs, Chinese, Spaniards, Americans amongst others, creating a unique cultural and racial hybrid. To build good business relationships here be prepared for a relaxed and hospitable attitude. Make sure to show an interest in the country and its culture, as well as personal topics such as family. In the Philippines companies are hierarchically structured with senior management in charge of all the important decisions.

Doing business in the Philippines can be a tricky task but the World Business Culture website has all the local expertise on the economic and legal structure and business etiquette for guaranteeing business’ success.


This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in the Philippines. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.

With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in the Philippines and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.

Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips