The Philippines: The Pearl of Southeast Asia

This post is part of a series detailing market specifics of ASEAN nations. Click here to see the rest of the series.

The Philippines, an archipelago of over 7,000 islands, stands as a testament to resilience, diversity, and growth. Known for its vibrant culture, breathtaking landscapes, and warm, English-speaking population, it’s steadily positioning itself as a powerhouse in the Southeast Asian region.

For New Zealand businesses, the Philippines offers a market teeming with opportunities, from its burgeoning tech scene to a robust outsourcing industry and an emerging middle class.

Vital Statistics

  • Population: Approx. 110 million
  • GDP: Approx. $376 billion USD (as of 2021)
  • GDP Growth Rate: 6.2% (Projected for 2023)
  • Major Cities & Population:
    • Manila (13 million)
    • Quezon City (2.9 million)
    • Davao City (1.6 million)
  • Median Age: 24.3 years
  • Major Industries: Outsourcing, Electronics, Agriculture, Tourism, Shipbuilding
  • Primary Language: Filipino and English
  • Currency: Philippine Peso (PHP)

Economic Overview

The Philippines’ economy has seen consistent growth over the past decades, driven mainly by its thriving Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector and remittances from overseas Filipino workers. The country is also a significant player in the electronics export market, with semiconductors and electronic equipment forming a major chunk of exports.

Tourism, with attractions ranging from pristine beaches to historic sites, further fuels the country’s economic engine. Agriculture remains crucial, with the Philippines being a top producer of products like coconuts, rice, and pineapples.

Business Culture and Etiquette

While the Philippines shares many Asian business values, its long history of Western influence makes it somewhat unique. Filipinos put a premium on personal relationships; therefore, building rapport and trust is essential in business dealings. English is widely spoken, making communication generally straightforward.

Understanding local festivals and holidays, such as Sinulog and Ati-Atihan, can be vital, as these major events can influence business schedules.


  • Digital Landscape: With one of the highest social media usage rates globally, the Philippines is ripe for digital marketing and e-commerce ventures.
  • BPO & IT Services: As a global leader in outsourcing, opportunities in IT, customer service, and back-office operations are vast.
  • Infrastructure Projects: The government’s “Build, Build, Build” program paves the way for massive infrastructure developments.

The digital engagement of Filipinos offers a fertile ground for businesses targeting online platforms, from e-commerce to app developments.

Additionally, the country’s established reputation in the BPO industry makes it an ideal location for companies looking to outsource various services, from IT to human resources.

The Philippine government’s aggressive infrastructure push presents numerous opportunities for firms in the construction, transportation, and urban development sectors.


  • Regulatory Hurdles: The evolving regulatory environment can sometimes be a challenge for foreign investors.
  • Infrastructure Bottlenecks: Despite recent developments, some areas still face infrastructure challenges.
  • Natural Disasters: The country’s location makes it susceptible to natural calamities like typhoons and earthquakes.

The Philippine regulatory landscape can be complex, and foreign businesses need to stay updated to ensure compliance.

Infrastructure, although improving, can still be a challenge, especially in more remote regions of the country.

Given its geographic location, businesses need to have contingency plans for natural disasters, which can occasionally disrupt operations.

Future Outlook:

  • Tech Innovations: With a young, tech-savvy population, the country is poised for a tech revolution, from fintech to AI.
  • Green Initiatives: The Philippines is gradually focusing on sustainable practices, offering opportunities in renewable energy and eco-tourism.
  • ASEAN Collaboration: As an active ASEAN member, the Philippines stands to benefit from regional trade agreements and partnerships.

The Philippines, with its large, young population, is set to embrace technological innovations, making it an ideal ground for tech businesses.

The country’s shift towards sustainable practices and its natural beauty also offers untapped potential in the realms of green technology and eco-tourism.

Being an integral part of the ASEAN community, the Philippines is strategically positioned for regional collaborations, fostering growth and partnerships.

In summary, the Philippines, with its unique blend of East and West, presents a dynamic and promising market for New Zealand businesses.

As the nation leaps forward, its potential for growth and innovation is unparalleled.

Considering a foray into the Philippines? Connect with Aseanz today, and let’s unlock the immense potential of this Southeast Asian gem together.