Business FAQs

The U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion unit of the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. U.S. Commercial Service trade professionals in over 100 U.S. cities and in more than 75 countries help U.S. companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets. In the United States, the USCS operates an extensive network of Export Assistance Centers that offer companies easy access and efficient response to exporting and international trade inquiries. Overseas, the Commercial Service represents more than 95 percent of the world market for U.S. exports. The U.S. Commercial Service Philippines staff provides a combination of cost-effective basic and customized services to help you obtain market information, participate in trade events, and identify potential partners.

The Philippines is the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia, and it offers a broad range of opportunities for U.S. businesses. American companies work across a wide spectrum of sectors and industries, including information technology, financial services, electronics, automotives, consumer products, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, educational services, retail, franchising, and energy. U.S. business engagement in the Philippines is longstanding, positive, and growing, and American firms play a major role in the economy. American products and services are well-known and trusted, owing to the close historical partnership between the U.S. and the Philippines over the past 100 years. 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. Learn more about the Philippines’ economy here.

The 2013 Philippine Country Commercial Guide (PDF 855KB) lists the leading sectors for U.S. exports and investment in the Philippines. Chapter 1: Doing Business in the Philippines provides a brief synopsis of the information contained in this comprehensive report. Aside from the best prospect sectors U.S. firms should also be aware of opportunities in other sectors of the Philippine economy. Contact the U.S. Commercial Service for information on the market of opportunities for your particular product or service.

The U.S. Commercial Service in the Philippines provides many services to help U.S. companies identify potential Philippine partners. Their business matchmaking services are designed to help you locate, screen, and meet with potential buyers, representatives, distributors, and joint venture partners. The Commercial Service can also help you launch your product through the “Single Company Promotion” program, through which CS Philippines organizes promotional events for U.S. companies. 

Participating in local trade shows is an excellent way to contact potential buyers and to gain market exposure. Every year U.S. Commercial Service Philippines supports a number of trade shows and events carefully selected by its team of country experts. Contact us if you want to learn more about our trade shows.

You will find information about “Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards-FAIRS” in the Foreign Agricultural Service home page. If you need additional information or assistance, please click here to contact USDA Philippines.

The American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines can provide you with the names of U.S. companies established in the Philippines.

The Philippine business environment is highly personalized. A proper introduction by a trusted intermediary is the best way to enter this market. The U.S. Commercial Service performs this function for American manufacturers (and their representatives) through its business matchmaking Gold Key program. The 2013 Country Commercial Guide (PDF 855KB) presents a comprehensive look at the Philippines’ commercial environment. This guide reviews economic and political conditions and trends, identifies commercial opportunities for U.S. exports and investment, and reviews the overall investment climate in the Philippines. CCGs are prepared annually at U.S. Embassies and represent the combined efforts of several U.S. Government agencies.

Registration of patents and trademarks is on a first-in-time, first-in-right basis, so you should consider applying for trademark and patent protection even before selling your products or services in the Philippine market. Intellectual property is protected differently in the Philippines than in the United States, and rights must be registered and enforced under local laws. It is the responsibility of the rights’ holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Philippine law. The U.S. Commercial Service can provide a list of local lawyers upon request.

The Special 301 Report (2015) prepared annually by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) indentifies trade barriers to U.S. companies and products due to the intellectual property laws. In 2014 the Philippines was removed from the Watch List of the Special 301 Report. In 2011, the Philippine Supreme Court approved Rules of Procedure for Intellectual Property Rights Cases, a key judicial reform identified in several recent Special 301 reports. The special rules include: streamlined procedures to expedite cases and rules of evidence for IPR cases; provisions for the destruction of seized goods; designation of four courts with national jurisdiction to issue search warrants; and regional IP commercial courts. The special rules have the potential to improve IPR-related convictions as it shortens lengthy court action that led many cases to be settled out of court.

If you need legal advice, please contact us. We can provide you with a list of the major law firms located in the Philippines. Please take into account that the listing of a firm does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Commerce or any other agency of the U.S. Government. CS Philippines lists law firms on its website under “Business Service Providers.”

Graft and corruption in government and business remain a major business constraint, despite the Government’s effort to combat them. President Aquino’s good governance program has resulted in the filing of corruption cases against several high-profile public officials. The 2012-2016 Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Cluster Plan (PDF 109KB) further identifies specific measures to curb corruption through greater transparency and accountability in government transactions.

It is important for U.S. companies, irrespective of their size, to assess the business climate in the relevant market in which they will be operating or investing, and to have an effective compliance program or measures to prevent and detect corruption, including foreign bribery. U.S. individuals and firms operating or investing in foreign markets should take the time to become familiar with the relevant anticorruption laws of both the foreign country and the United States in order to properly comply with them, and where appropriate, they should seek the advice of legal counsel. Information about the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), including a “Lay-Person’s Guide to the FCPA” is available at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Website.

The U.S. Department of Commerce offers several services to aid U.S. businesses seeking to address business-related corruption issues. For example, the U.S. Commercial Service can provide services that may assist U.S. companies in conducting their due diligence as part of the company’s overarching compliance program when choosing business partners or agents overseas. As one way to identify reputable firms in the market, the Commercial Service Philippines provides background information on local companies under its “International Company Profile.” The U.S. Commercial Service can be reached directly through its offices in every major U.S. and foreign city, or through its website.

You can also access the most recent reports on Doing Business in the Philippines and Corruption Perception Index here.

Around 600,000 U.S. citizens safely visit the Philippines each year for study, tourism, and business. However, criminal groups have clashed sporadically with the Philippine Armed Forces, particularly in rural areas on the island of Mindanao. We encourage all U.S. citizens in the Philippines to enroll with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. By enrolling, you can receive the Embassy’s most recent security and safety updates.

You can also read the most recent Country Report on Terrorism released by the Department of State and the 2014 Philippines Crime and Safety Report released by OSAC.

If you have additional questions, please contact us at (+632) 301-2000 or