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Philippines - Overview

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Capital:: Manila
Area:: 300 km2
Total Population:: 91.983
Annual growth rate:: 2.00%
Density:: 308.00/km2
Urban population:: 66%
Population of Quezon City (2.700), Manila (10.500), Kalookan City (1.400), Davao City (1.400), Cebu (800)
Official language: Filipino and English.
Other languages spoken: There are nearly 70 languages in the islands, but the most prevalent minority languages are Visayan (Cebuano), and Ilokano. Spanish is hardly used by the population.
Business language: English. One may however meet Spanish speaking people.
Ethnic Origins:: Tagalog 28.1%, Cebuano 13.1%, Ilocano 9%, Bisaya/Binisaya 7.6%, Hiligaynon Ilonggo 7.5%, Bikol 6%, Waray 3.4%, others 25.3%.
Beliefs: Catholics 83%; Protestants 9%; Muslims 5%; Others 3%.
Telephone codes:
To make a call from: 0
To make a call to: +63
Internet suffix:: .ph
Type of State::
Republic based on a presidential government
Type of economy::
Country with intermediate income (lower section), emerging financial market
Economy which primarily depends on agriculture; world's largest producer of coconut products. The highest birth rate in Asia.

Economic overview

The Philippines' economy has strengthened in the recent years, a fact that protected it from the direct impacts of the global financial crisis and the recession, but without sparing it totally.  After having attained in 2009 its lowest level since the Asian crisis (1.1%), the growth of the Philippines' GDP has revived in 2010, increasing to 7% according to the estimations.  On the track of the dynamic revival that the country has experienced, supported by the augmentation of exports in the manufacturing sector, the Philippines' economy has also profited, in a particular sense,  from the presidential elections. 

The plan of the  "economic resilience" launched at the beginning of 2009, gives priority to the "post-crisis" management through a budgetary deficit control in order to stimulate the economy and compensate the effects of the crisis.  The objective at mid-term is to bring the budget deficit  to 2% of the GDP from now until 2013.  The new president, Benigno Aquino, has presented on his agenda 16 points in the "Social Contract with the Filipino People", they emphasize the need to insure a long-term growth and reduce poverty.

On a social level, the country faces several challenges: the population living under the poverty threshold has increased in these recent years (33% of the population), the crisis has aggravated  the unemployment rate (8% of the active population), there is a significant demographic growth and  the  inequality in wealth distribution persists.

Main industries

The agricultural  sector employs about 40% of the labor force but contributes to less than 15% of the GDP. The Philippines is one of the world's main producers of rice and coconut. However, the agricultural sector suffers from low productivity, weak economies of scale and inadequate infrastructures. Fishing contributes to 3% of the GDP. The Philippines is one of the richest countries of the world in terms of minerals with an unexploited mineral wealth estimated at more than USD 840 billion. The Philippines reserves of copper, gold and zinc are among the largest of the world. 

The manufacturing sector contributes to around 30% of the GDP. Industrial food processing is one of  the Philippines' main manufacturing activities. The big industries are dominated by the production of cement, glass, chemicals products and fertilizers, iron, steel, and refined oil products.

The tertiary sector, which represents more than 50% of the GDP, has developed substantially especially in the fields of telecommunications, calling centers, and finance.

Foreign trade overview

During these two last decades, the Philippines' economy, which was relatively closed, has evidently opened up, partly due to its ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) membership. Its three main export partners are the United States, Japan and China. The main export commodities are electronic and electrical equipment, nuclear reactors and boilers, vehicles and clothing. Its three main import partners are the United States, Japan and Singapore. The main import commodities are electronics and electrical equipment, mineral fuels and oil, nuclear reactors and boilers, iron, steel and vehicles. Traditionally, the Philippines has a deficit trade balance; however, under the effects of the global crisis, its trade balance deficit was reduced (and even transformed into a positive balance during a few months) due to the fact of a high fall on imports followed by a fast revival of exports.


Foreign direct investment (FDI) had clearly decreased since 2008 due to the unfavorable international economic environment; however, it has started to rebound again in 2010. Considering the comparative advantages of the Philippines, such as:  English speaking and well-skilled manpower, a strong cultural proximity to the United States, its geographical location in a dynamic area, the FDI flow in the Philippines is rather weak.  This can be partially explained by the fact that the country is evolving into a service society, with a low capital strength, which means a need of  minimal equipment.  In addition, the government favors subcontracting agreements between foreign companies and local enterprises rather than FDI in the strict sense of the term.  Lastly, corruption, instability, inadequate infrastructures and not enough juridical security discourages investment.
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