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Philippines ripe for food expansion


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Location: An archipelago east of Vietnam, between the Philippine Sea and South China Sea, the Philippines cover an area slightly larger than Arizona. Capital is Manila.

Language: Filipino and English are both official languages; it’s the fourth largest English-speaking country in the world.

Philippines flag

Flag Facts

Each element has a meaning. Blue stands for peace and justice, red symbolizes courage, and the white equal-sided triangle represents equality. The eight rays of the sun recall the first eight provinces that sought independence from Spain, while the stars represent the three major geographical divisions of the country: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Government: Presidential republic

Religion: The third largest Catholic country in the world, behind Brazil and Mexico.

Economy: While the Philippines’ GDP growth is among the fastest in the region, at 6.1 percent in 2015 and 6.9 percent in 2016, the U.S. Commercial Service reports unstable global oil prices, the UK’s vote to exit the European Union, anxiety over the local and U.S. elections, and other geopolitical uncertainties continue to fuel volatility in the foreign exchange market. The unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent in 2016, but income inequality is a challenge as the national
poverty rate hovers around 22 percent.

International attention: Elected in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte pledged to make inclusive growth and poverty reduction top priorities. He also believes drug use, crime and corruption are key barriers to economic development among the lower income class and the police force’s subsequent anti-drug crackdown has resulted in the death of thousands while bringing international criticism from human rights groups.

GDP (official exchange rate): $311.7 billion

Currency: Philippine peso (conversion rate at press time: 1 PHP equals $0.019 USD).

Franchising in the Philippines: U.S. food franchise brands are greatly desired in the Philippines, noted Edwards Global Services, and the country has several large franchise development groups such as Bistro Group, which is the Philippines licensee for TGI Fridays, Buffalo Wild Wings, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Denny’s, among other local concepts. The Philippine Franchise Association is the self-regulating governing body for franchising and is also linked with the Asia-Pacific Franchise Confederation and the IFA.

Ease of doing business ranking by World Bank: 99, no change from 2016.

Cultural notes: Forging and maintaining smooth relationships is important to Filipinos, and part of this process is the “utang na loob” (reciprocity) system where one business or political connection leads to other, more lucrative deals. Accepting a favor or reference calls for a larger one in return—a simple “thank you” won’t suffice.

Sources: U.S. Commercial Service, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, “Kiss, Bow, and Shake Hands,” U.S. News & World Report.

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