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Last updated : Nov 2009
Manila Business Profile
Manila Business Overview - TravelPuppy.com
Manila Economy

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.

Business Etiquette

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.