A. PEOPLE POWER
According to a survey conducted by the U.S.- based Meta Group, the Philippines is ranked first in the number of knowledge-based jobs and workers worldwide. Meanwhile, the Philippines has the second highest number of skilled workforce worldwide, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook of 2013. Aside from the huge, productive, trainable, and multi-skilled labor force, the Philippines also has highly qualified managers and information technology (IT) staff and engineers.
Moreover, the Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in the region, with 93.9% of the population capable of being trained for essential skills and competencies. The country’s unique edge comes from the high level of English proficiency of Filipinos. In fact, the Philippines is the third largest English-speaking country in the world and the top-ranked country in the world for Business English.
It boasts of a good educational system, which has recently been adjusted to adapt to global standards. Under the current education system, the government offers free primary (six years) and secondary education (six years, divided into junior and senior high school), and reasonable yet competitive tertiary/collegiate education (four years).
Some schools offer basic IT proficiency classes as part of the primary and secondary education curricula. Many universities and colleges offer ITrelated courses, and some educational institutions specialize in IT training.
English and Filipino are the primary languages used as media of instruction, with English as the official medium for business communication. Some 19.2 million students are in primary and secondary levels, whereas around 2 million students are in the tertiary level, 1.7 million of which are in private institutions. The five disciplines with the most number of enrollees are Business Administration, Education and Teacher Training, Information Technology, Engineering and Technology, and Medical and Allied, which account for an estimated 77% of all enrolees.
The Philippines is located in Asia, which is the fastest growing region today. Flanked by two major trade routes – the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea – the Philippines is an ideal base for business and a critical entry point to over 600 million people in the ASEAN market. Hence, the country is a natural choice as an ASEAN gateway in the international shipping and air lanes, particularly for European and North American businesses.
C. FIRST-CLASS LIFESTYLE
According to the March 2000 survey of Hong Kong’s Political Risk Consultancy Ltd (PERC), the Philippines is the best Asian country in terms of overall quality of expatriate life. In the same survey, the Philippines ranked third among all countries surveyed – next to Australia and the U.S. – and was ahead of Singapore and Japan. Its cultural compatibility with expatriates, its housing, sporting, and recreational facilities, quality healthcare, and first-rate educational institutions, were rated highly as well.
D. ABUNDANT RESOURCES
Being an archipelago, the Philippines offers diverse natural resources, from land to marine to mineral resources. It is also the biggest producer of copper in Southeast Asia and is among the top ten producers of gold in the world. The Philippines is home to 2,145 species of fish, which is four times more than those found in the Bahamas. The 7,100 islands of the Philippine archipelago boast of beautiful beaches and breathtaking sceneries that offer leisure and serve as relaxation spots for vacationers and tourists.
E. LOW COST OF DOING BUSINESS
Wages are low, typically less than a fifth of those in the United States. Local costs for communication, electricity, and housing are also 50% lower compared to U.S. rates. Foreign companies that are now outsourcing programming and business processes to the Philippines estimate approximately 40% of savings in business costs, 15% to 30% for call center services, and 35% to 50% for software development.
F. BUSINESS-FRIENDLY POLICIES
The Philippine government promotes partnership with the private sector to enable and enhance the latter’s participation in developing infrastructure and services in the country. It has adopted the innovative Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme, a model now being followed by other countries due to its success.
The country has opened up its economy by allowing 100% foreign ownership in almost all sectors. It has strengthened its capital markets and has deregulated banking, insurance, and the shipping and telecommunication sectors, therefore removing most, if not all of the monopoly structures in the Philippine market economy. Attractive incentive packages are available to qualified enterprises in the country’s numerous Special Economic Zones and Industrial Estates. The Special Economic Zones have become balanced hubs of agricultural, industrial, and recreational activity.
Corporate income tax rate has been reduced to 30%, with companies located in economic zones/ export zones subject only to a 5% overall tax rate.
G. UNLIMITED BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
The Philippines, together with other ASEAN economies, is posed to launch a single and integrated market in 2015. The ASEAN Economic Community is expected to bring together a market of over 600 million people facilitating a free flow of goods, services, investments, labor, and capital.
The Philippines is the most strategic location for firms that aspire to gain access to the large ASEAN market. It has complied with WTO, APEC, and AFTA agreements and has reduced tariff rates on manufactured goods. The Philippines has enhanced and primed up various areas of business for investors and offers a dynamic consumer market accustomed to an array of product choices created by a competitive domestic economy.
H. ALL YOU NEED AND MORE
The Philippines offers state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities and adequate uninterrupted power supply. Specialized IT zones offer ready-to-occupy offices and production facilities, computer security and building monitoring systems, as well as complete office services.