The economy is basically divided into agriculture which contributes
20% of the GDP, industry (32%) and services (48%). However, the
major export of the country is without doubt the people. Maids,
musicians and other guest workers swarm Asia’s service sector,
including the far more highly qualified professionals noted for
their adaptability and English language skills. The unemployment
rate of 13.9% does not factor the large numbers of underemployed
or those on bare subsistence incomes. About 32% of the population
live below the poverty line. Manila has the highest unemployment
rate caused job seekers flooding into the capital from the provinces.
Manufacturing is mainly concentrated in or near metro Manila,
with firms employing more than 50% of the country’s manufacturing
workers. This is due to a number of factors such as Manila’s
role as the principal port of entry for imported raw materials
and other goods; the city’s superb harbour, the large local
market; plenty of skilled labour; and the presence of the country's
major governmental, financial and cultural institutions.
The leading exports include textiles, clothing and electronic
goods. Iron and steel, food and beverages, watches, cigars and
cigarettes, leather goods and shoes are also made here. Entrepreneurs,
often with foreign financial partners process primary commodities
for export that include plywood, refined sugar, copra and coconut
oil. Some of the top companies are Ayala Corp, Ayala Land,
Meralco and SM Prime.
The primary business, financial and embassy district is Makati
City. The Philippine Stock Exchange has trading floors
here and in Pasig City. Manila has moved into the ‘new
economy’ with many software businesses using cheap,
highly educated English speaking employees to handle outsourcing
work for the world’s computerised operations. The mobile-phone
company SMART, is another testament to the importance of
technology in Manila. The Jollibee fast-food franchise
has even launched an international brand.
American English is spoken in business circles. The recommended
way to make business contacts is through connections rather than
by cold calling. Handshakes and exchanging business cards is the
usual greeting. Because of Manila’s heat, dress codes are
more relaxed. A shirt and tie is always the norm for formal meetings.
Hospitality for clients can typically include drinks and a round
of golf. Gifts should be wrapped in red or green for good luck.
Filipinos are not usually punctual and delays do occur. It is
necessary to make appointments. The best months to visit on business
are October to November and January to May. Business trips during
Christmas and Easter holidays are not recommended.
Office hours are usually Monday
to Friday 8.00 am to 12 noon and 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm. Some offices open on Saturdays between 8.00 am to 12 noon.