Japan and the Philippines: a long history and close ties
The Philippines and Japan have a long-shared history of doing business together. Today, there are approximately 1,380 Japanese company bases in the Philippines actively doing business. For many years, Japan has consistently been one of the top trade partners of the Philippines for imports and exports.
With a strong economic relationship, Japan and the Philippines continue to explore many business and investment opportunities with one another.
In the timeline of Philippine-Japan economic relations, JETRO Manila came into the picture in 1956 with the sole purpose of promoting Japanese export products to the Philippines.
Since then, JETRO Manila has evolved and expanded its services. As the first contact point for Japanese companies aiming to enter the Philippine market, JETRO Manila works closely with the Philippine government to promote mutually beneficial trade and investment opportunities.
Challenges and opportunities
According to JETRO’s survey on business conditions, Japanese companies operating in the Philippines have identified three challenges as the main management risks of doing business in the country:
(1) The efficiency of the tax system and tax procedures
(2) The state of development of the legal system
(3) Administrative efficiency
As the country continues to grow economically, we see the many social issues faced by the Philippines. One example, much like Japan, is the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters. Pollution of the air, soil and marine ecosystem pose a threat to economic and social activities.
On the global scale, there is also the impact of geopolitical issues and the outbreak of the COVID pandemic that has threatened the stability of supply chains.
Although business always involves risks, it is important for foreign companies, including Japanese companies, to enter the Philippines with a sense of security and visibility toward the future, especially during unstable times. I believe that by mutually cooperating and complementing each other in various fields, both countries can encourage stability and security among businesses and make global and regional supply chains more resilient and sophisticated.
We can achieve such cooperation by taking advantage of the opportunities owing to the Philippines’ fast-growing economy. The income level of the Philippines has improved and the country is gaining a reputation not only as a manufacturing base, but also as a consumer market. As the consumer market expands, there is no doubt that the Philippines could be a more attractive destination for Japanese companies.
The global agenda of tackling climate change and global warming by achieving carbon neutrality also provides a unique opportunity for synergies between the two countries.
Japan has various advanced energy-saving and environmental technologies, including hybrid for automobiles and recycling technology. Japan’s experience in developing and utilizing such technologies can greatly aid the Philippines and the country’s strategy in addressing these social issues. At the same time, we envision that these fields can also become business opportunities for Japanese companies.
On February 8, 2023, JETRO signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on business promotion with the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Under this memorandum, the JETRO Manila office will provide daily support for Japanese companies expanding into the Philippines, as well as support the overseas expansion of Japanese startups.
This reinforces our mandate of promoting mutual trade and investment that we have been carrying out for years through our business matching, mentoring and other services. Now, we will bring focus to the social issues of the Philippines and introduce innovative environmental and energy-saving technologies from Japanese companies.
A prosperous future
JETRO’s vision is of ‘a prosperous and peaceful world achieved through connectedness” and our mission is focused on ‘laying the foundation for business in exciting new fields together with people, companies and countries.’
Based on our vision and mission, JETRO Manila will move forward and do our best to contribute to a prosperous future by connecting people and companies in Japan and the Philippines.
Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Manila
44th Floor, AIA Tower (formerly Philamlife Tower)
8767 Paseo de Roxas