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Why the Philippines?


The United States is among the Philippines’ top trading partners, and it traditionally has been the Philippines’ largest foreign investor. Two-way goods and services trade between the United States and the Philippines totaled to $24 billion in 2012 (latest available data. Data source here and below: US Census Bureau). The Philippines was the United States’ 34rd largest export market in 2013 and its 36th largest supplier. Goods exports to the Philippines totaled $8.4 billion in 2013; goods imports totaled $9.3 billion. Trade in services with the Philippines (exports and imports) totalled $6.2 billion in 2012 (latest data available). U.S. exports of agricultural products to the Philippines totaled $2.5 billion, the 9th largest U.S. agricultural export market. U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Philippines was $4.6 billion in 2012 (latest data available).

In 2013 the Philippines gross domestic product grew 7.2 percent despite the impact of Typhoon Haiyan. (Source here and below: World Bank Philippines Economic Update, 2014).  Growth is projected at 6.6 percent in 2014 and 6.9 percent in 2015 depending on the speed and scope of post-Haiyan reconstruction program.

The Philippines has seen strong performance in its manufacturing and construction sectors in 2013, as well as an increase in government and consumer spending. The Philippines is pursuing a massive infrastructure spending program worth around $10 billion that covers a wide range of investments, from power plants and bridges to roads and schools. The program helped win an investment grading from rating agencies.

The United States and the Philippines have had a very close commercial relationship for more than a hundred years. We meet regularly with the Philippines under the auspices of a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed in November 1989. Several additional agreements have been signed under TIFA auspices, including a customs administration and trade facilitation protocol (2010), a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on stopping illegal transshipments of textiles and apparel (2006), and a memorandum of understanding regarding the implementation of minimum access commitments by the Philippines (1998).

Economic growth in the Philippines has created opportunities for U.S. companies in a number of sectors, including electronic products, mineral fuels, machinery and transport equipment, iron and steel, and textile fabrics. Key exports to the United States are semiconductor devices and computer peripherals, automobile parts, electric machinery, textiles and garments, wheat and animal feeds, and coconut oil. In addition to other goods, the Philippines imports raw and semi-processed materials for the manufacture of semiconductors, electronics and electrical machinery, transport equipment, and cereals.

U.S. business engagement in the Philippines is longstanding, positive, and growing, and American firms play a major role in the economy. The Philippines has much to offer to U.S. businesses: a strong economy with opportunities in many promising sectors; a geographic advantage within four hours of major Asian capitals; the fifth largest English-speaking population in the world; and warm, friendly people who hold American products and services in high regard.

Updated: May 2014

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