Doing Business in the Philippines

What to Consider Before Doing Business in the Philippines in 2020

Business in the Philippines has remained strong and resilient over the years, making the country one of the fastest-growing economies in the ASEAN region. Industries such as manufacturing, trade and repair of automobiles, personal household goods, and construction became the main drivers of the country’s economic growth in 2020. 

The Economic Performance of the Philippines

In the fourth quarter of 2019, the Philippines acquired a 6.4% GDP growth rate (GDP of 376.8B USD) coming in fourth after Vietnam (6.5%), Laos (6.8%), and Cambodia (7%). The country also ranks 95th on the Doing Business Report in 2020, jumping from 124th place last year. 

According to the report, the Philippines has improved three areas in its business sector: 

This was made possible with the government’s effort in revising the Corporation Code in February 2019, which highlights the introduction of a One Person Corporation and the elimination of the minimum capital requirement when starting a business. Streamlining the process of securing government business permits also enabled businesses to establish much quicker in comparison to past years. 

The Business Setting in the Philippines

As an entrepreneur, an investor, or a legal entity seeking to establish a business in the Philippines, it is imperative to know the best practices and government regulations of business setup in the country. 

Recently, the government has been making efforts to make the country more attractive for foreign investors, with initiatives like Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) investment scheme and the Revised Corporation Code, to make starting a business easier.

As a foreign investor, there are many reasons why starting a business in the Philippines is a wise choice. Among them are the following:

  • Quality Manpower. The country’s priority in education puts it at an advantage by having a high literacy rate of 98.18%. English is also taught in schools and is widely spoken throughout the country, eliminating the complication of language barriers. 
  • Developing Infrastructure. The Philippine economy is open to innovations and ideas by improving various areas for investors. The government’s “Build, Build, Build” program aims to cover areas such as disaster mitigation, social and tourism, industry and trade, highways, and transportation to help drive its infrastructure to the future.
  • Confidence of Filipino Consumers. Filipinos love to spend their money on new items such as clothing, vacations (local and international), investments, and more. 
  • Strategic Location. Being at the heart of Asia, it’s located close to the major financial hubs in Asia, like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Bangkok, etc.

Depending on the type of business you want to establish, it is best to have these factors in mind and use them to your advantage. 

Starting Your Business in the Philippines

The first step you have to do is identify the kind of business you will venture into and the business structure to go along with it. In the Philippines, there are three kinds of business structures that you can register your company under, namely, Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, and Corporation

Before undergoing the business registration process, you have to make sure that your company’s internal papers, such as Articles of Incorporation and by-laws, Treasurer’s Affidavit, Contract of Lease, and other documents are prepared beforehand to avoid any delays. If you have documents signed abroad, you must have them apostilled, consularized, or authenticated ahead of time.

The Business Registration Process in the Philippines

The business registration process in the Philippines usually takes around six weeks to three months, depending on how long it will take the government to process your application. Here’s  a 5-step guide on how you can register your business:

  1. Register your business name with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) personally through their office or register online through SEC’s Company Registration System (CRS) page
  2. Prepare your documents for submission to SEC
  3. Secure the following from the Local Government Unit (LGU) of your business address:
    1. Barangay Clearance
    2. Mayor’s Permit (or Business Permit)
  4. Process your corporate tax number with the Bureau of Internal Revenue
  5. Register as an employer with the following government agencies:
    1. Social Security System (SSS)
    2. Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth)
    3. Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund)

Business Digitization in the Philippines During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 15, the national government placed the Philippines on lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, forcing many businesses to adopt the work-from-home arrangement and shift to digitization to continue their operations. 

The government strictly implemented temporary closure of airports, adjustments on corporate deadlines and tax filings, and health safety protocols for private businesses. It also mandated local government units (LGUs) to impose local travel bans and curfew hours to further prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The Philippine government also applied measures to secure “no-contact” transactions through delivery services, such as Grab and FoodPanda, following the examples of countries such as China and New Zealand. 

Industries such as food, agriculture, banking, and IT-BPO, to name a few, have adopted the work-from-home arrangement and digitization on their operations. 

Start Your Business in the Philippines in 2020

Doing business in the Philippines has improved over the years, with efforts from both public and private sectors to help ease the process of business registration and relax border restrictions to attract foreign investors through tax incentives and encourage local entrepreneurs through government grants and business loans.

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