The Philippines’ economy is an emerging market and is currently the 40th largest economy in the world. It is a newly industrialized economy, and is still making the transition from an agriculturally-based economy to one that is based on manufacturing and services. According to Goldman Sachs estimates, in the next 40 years the Philippines will become the 14th largest economy on the planet, and HSBC predicts the economy will be the largest in Southeast Asia within the same time frame.
As one of the Tiger Cub economies along with Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, the main industries are agriculture, electronics assembly, business process outsourcing, garments, footwear, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food processing, petroleum refining, and fishing. The Philippines Ease of Doing Business Rank is 138th of 183 countries. The economy of the Philippines is currently growing at 7.8% — faster than both China and Indonesia.
The market in the Philippines is buoyant with GDP growth expected to continue at about 5%. Sectors that will continue to attract strong interest from international firms include the natural resources sector. Infrastructure projects will also provide work for law firms as the country tries to update its roads and transportation networks.
Of growing importance are legal firms with immigration and employment law expertise as the business process outsourcing sector gains steam. The few foreign firms that operate in the Philippines believe that having an established presence on the ground is important, especially focusing on capital markets and project finance mandates. Interestingly, there are few full-service foreign firms operating in the country, which has allowed the domestic legal sector to flourish.
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