The Philippines is the third-largest English speaking country in the world, enabling its manpower to have a unique edge over neighboring countries in terms of labor quality. Its workforce is easily trainable and generally skilled. Flanked by the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, its strategic location makes it a critical entry point to some 500 million people in the ASEAN market – offering vast trade opportunities – and an ideal base for business. It is also the best Asian country in terms of overall quality of expatriate life, considering its cultural compatibility with expatriates, housing, sporting and recreational facilities, quality healthcare, and first-rate educational institutions.
Considering its strategic location, unique edge as an English speaking country and rich natural resources, the cost of doing business in the Philippines is surprisingly low, with wages down to less than one-fifth of that in the U.S. Communication, electricity and housing costs can go as low as a mere half of the costs in the U.S. Foreign companies now outsourcing programming and business processes to the Philippines incur 30 to 40% business cost savings, 15 to 30% call center services, and 35 to 50% application systems and software development. However infrastructures in the Philippines lag behind those of comparable countries. Furthermore, weather conditions put a regular threat on those infrastructures with frequent typhoons.
Foreign ownership of up to 100% is also allowed in almost all economic sectors, but the banking industry where a foreign company can only owned up to 60%. Attractive incentives are offered in numerous Special Economic Zones and Industrial Estates, which are being promoted as agricultural, industrial, commercial and recreational hubs.
Foreign corporations must first register with the Securities and Exchange Commission before they can engage in business in the Philippines. The necessary licenses or registration certificates must be secured from the appropriate government agencies, depending on where the project is to be located.