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In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in the Philippines | Protection of Foreign Investment | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Office Real Estate and Land Ownership | Investment Aid | Investment Opportunities | Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer | Finding Assistance For Further Information


FDI in Figures

According to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2023, foreign direct investment inflows to the Philippines decreased from USD 11.9 billion in 2021 to USD 9.2 billion in 2022 (-23.2%) owing to acquisitions by local investors of foreign affiliates; for example, Union Bank of the Philippines acquired the Philippine consumer banking business of Citigroup (United States) for USD 1.4 billion. At the end of 2022, the total stock of FDI stood at USD 112.9 billion, around 27.9% of the country’s GDP. In the same year, the majority of inflows were directed towards the manufacturing (44.1%), financial and insurance (12.4%), real estate (10.6%), and ICT (10.1%) sectors; whereas Japan (35.1%) was the main investor, followed by Singapore (28.8%), the U.S. (14.7%), and Malaysia (6.4% - data Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department of the House of Representatives). According to the latest figures from the Central Bank, in the period Jan-Nov 2023, FDI inflows totalled USD 7.6 billion, 13.3% lower than the same period one year earlier.

Despite growing FDI inflow levels, the Philippines continues to lag behind regional peers, in part because the Filipino constitution limits foreign investment, and also due to the threat of terrorism in some parts of the country. This can be partially explained by the fact that the country is evolving into a service society with low capital strength, which means that it needs only minimal equipment. In addition, the government favours subcontracting agreements between foreign companies and local enterprises rather than FDI in the strict sense of the term. Lastly, factors such as corruption, instability, inadequate infrastructure, high power costs, lack of juridical security, tax regulations and foreign ownership restrictions discourage investment. Nonetheless, the country offers many comparative advantages, including an English-speaking and well-skilled workforce, a strong cultural proximity to the U.S., exposure to an emerging market, and a geographical location in a dynamic region. Furthermore, the Philippines has been substantially improving its business climate in recent years. The country now permits international investors to establish and wholly own small and medium-sized enterprises, with full equity ownership also granted in sectors where foreign investment was already permissible. Previously, foreign investors were restricted to investing in small businesses only if they employed a minimum of 50 Filipino workers. The Philippines ranks 56th among the 132 economies on the Global Innovation Index 2023 and 88th out of 184 countries on the 2023 Index of Economic Freedom.

Foreign Direct Investment 202020212022
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 6,82211,9839,200
FDI Stock (million USD) 103,394111,526112,965
Number of Greenfield Investments* 5066134
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 1,4541,3753,508

Source: UNCTAD, Latest data available.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.



Main Investing Countries 2020, in %
USA 31.5
China 13.9
United Kingdom 11.7
Singapore 8.9
Japan 8.4
Main Invested Sectors 2020, in %
Transportation and Storage 61.1
Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply 17.6
Real estate 7.5
Manufacturing 4.4
Construction 2.5
Form of Company Preferred By Foreign Investors
Joint-stock company
Form of Establishment Preferred By Foreign Investors
A company
Main Foreign Companies
Lafarge, Philips, Shell, Intel, Texas Instrument, ING, Cemex, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Kawasaki, etc.

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What to consider if you invest in the Philippines

Strong Points

The country's main strong points in terms of FDI attractiveness include: 

  • A skilled young English-speaking workforce
  • A large domestic market (with a population of over 114 million people)
  • A gateway to other countries in the region facilitated by the country's membership in ASEAN
  • An economy that has successfully integrated enterprise outsourcing (BPO)
  • A very advanced legal system
  • Considerable natural wealth
Weak Points

The main weaknesses of the country include:

  • Political instability
  • Poor quality of its infrastructure  
  • Restrictions on foreign investment in certain sectors
  • Legal uncertainty and a lack of transparency of procedures (total banking secrecy favouring money laundering) generating tensions and a lack of confidence of the business community towards the legal system
  • High level of corruption in the administration and various state agencies 
  • Strong disparities in development according to the regions: income and security inequalities (problematic security situation in the Muslim regions of the South)
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
Legislation liberalising business practices has opened up more areas for investment, granting foreign investors the same incentives as other ASEAN members while simplifying procedures. The government has planned to increase investments to improve infrastructure (roads, bridges, railways, health and education) and to encourage social programs (child vaccinations, support for poor families, extension of health insurance coverage, primary education).
Recent changes to the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) allow foreign companies to have a 100% investment in internet businesses (not a part of mass media), insurance adjustment firms, investment houses, lending and finance companies, and wellness centres; as well as 40% in construction and repair of locally funded public works (the previous cap was at 25%).

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Protection of Foreign Investment

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By the Philippines
To see the list of investment treaties signed by the Philippines, consult UNCTAD's International Investment Agreements Navigator.
International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
Refer to UNCTAD's Investment Dispute Settlement Navigator.
Organizations Offering Their Assistance in Case of Disagreement
ICSID , International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes
ICCWBO , International Court of Arbitration, International Chamber of Commerce
Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
The Philippines are a signatory of the MIGA convention.
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Philippines (the) East Asia & Pacific United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 9.0 5.9 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 4.0 5.2 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 7.0 6.7 9.0 5.0

Source: The World Bank - Doing Business, Latest data available.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Philippine law treats foreign investors the same as their domestic counterparts, except in sectors reserved for Filipinos by the Philippine Constitution and the Foreign Investment Act (see below).
Acquisition of Holdings
The Philippines limits foreign ownership to 40% in the manufacturing of explosives, firearms, and military hardware. Other areas that carry varying foreign ownership ceilings include the following: private radio communication networks (40%); private employee recruitment firms (25%); advertising agencies (30%); natural resource exploration, development, and utilization (40%, with exceptions); educational institutions (40%, with some exceptions); operation and management of public utilities (40%); operation of commercial deep sea fishing vessels (40%); Philippine government procurement contracts (40% for supply of goods and commodities); contracts for the construction and repair of locally funded public works (40% with some exceptions); ownership of private lands (40%); and rice and corn production and processing (40%, with some exceptions). Retail trade enterprises with capital of less than USD 2.5 million, or less than USD 250,000, for retailers of luxury goods, are reserved for Filipinos.
Obligation to Declare
Constitutional provisions which bar investment in mass media, utilities, and natural resource extraction.
The Foreign Investment Negative List bans foreign ownership/participation in the following sectors: mass media (except recording and internet businesses); small-scale mining; private security agencies; utilization of marine resources, including the small-scale use of natural resources in rivers, lakes, and lagoons; cooperatives; cockpits; manufacturing of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices; and manufacturing, repair, stockpiling and/or distribution of nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weapons, and anti-personnel mines.
Requests For Specific Authorisations
The sectors open to foreign investment after an authorization has been obtained are listed in the Foreign Investment Act.

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Office Real Estate and Land Ownership

Possible Temporary Solutions
According to the Investors' Lease Act (R.A. 7652, 1994), a foreign investor is authorized to rent private land for 50 years, renewable for a period of 25 years, provided that the land is intended for investment (industrial buildings, factories, companies, tourism, etc.).
Consult the websites Instant Offices, Coworker, Manila Office Space, etc.
The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings
The Constitution of 1987 forbids foreigners to buy land.
The "Investors Lease Act" of 1994 (ILA) allows foreign investors to lease a contiguous parcel up to 1000 hectares for 50 years, renewable once for 25 additional years. The 2003 Dual Citizenship Act, which allows natural-born Filipinos who became naturalized citizens of a foreign country to re-acquire Philippine citizenship, gave Philippine dual citizens full rights to possess land.
Risk of Expropriation
The law provides for protection against expropriation except for reasons of public interest, national welfare, security/defense against payment of just compensation; and it provides for protection against requisitioning of goods except in case of war or national emergency and against payment of just compensation.

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Investment Aid

Forms of Aid
Investment aids take the form of exemptions and tax relief (e.g. exemption of the cost of necessary infrastructure work and labor expenses from taxable income), administrative and customs facilities.
Privileged Domains

Enterprises that locate in less-developed areas are entitled to pioneer incentives and can deduct 100% of the cost of necessary infrastructure work and labour expenses from taxable income. Moreover, an enterprise with more than 40% foreign equity that exports at least 70% of its production may be entitled to incentives even if the activity is not listed in the IPP.
Multinational entities that establish regional warehouses for the supply of spare parts, manufactured components, or raw materials for foreign markets enjoy incentives on imports that are re-exported, including exemption from customs duties, internal revenue taxes, and local taxes.
Export-related businesses enjoy preferential tax treatment when located in export processing zones, free trade zones, and certain industrial estates, known as “ecozones”.

Privileged Geographical Zones
According to the latest Investment Priorities Plan (IPP), FDIs are incentivized in the following sectors: manufacturing (e.g. agro-processing, modular housing components, machinery, and equipment); agriculture, fishery, and forestry; integrated circuit design, creative industries, and knowledge-based services (e.g. IT-Business Process Management services for the domestic market, repair/maintenance of aircraft, telecommunications, etc.); healthcare (e.g. hospitals and drug rehabilitation centers); mass housing; infrastructure and logistics (e.g. airports, seaports, and PPP projects); energy (development of energy sources, power generation plants, and ancillary services); innovation drivers (e.g. fabrication laboratories); and environment (e.g. climate change-related projects).
For further details, consult the dedicated page on the BOI website.
Free-trade zones
Export-related businesses enjoy preferential tax treatment when located in export processing zones (Mactan, Baguio, Cavite, and Pampanga), free trade zones, and certain industrial estates, collectively known as "ecozones" under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which operates 379 ecozones, primarily in manufacturing, IT, tourism, medical tourism, logistics/warehousing, and agro-industrial sectors. In 2020, the government approved 12 new economic zones, including: Davao del Sur Industrial Economic Zone, Batangas State University Knowledge, Innovation and Science Technology Park, GLAS Office Development, Bench City Centre, Ortigas Technopoint Tower 1 & 2, NEX Tower and Robinsons Luisita 2.
For a list of local investment promotion agencies, refer to the dedicated page on the BOI website.
Public aid and funding organisations
Philippines Export-Import Credit Agency

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Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
The majority of FDI investments includes manufacturing, financial/insurance activities, real estate, tourism/recreation, and transportation/storage.
High Potential Sectors
Gold and copper industry, e-commerce, biotechnology, business services (call centers and content control), education and insurance, energy sector, retail trade (the 2019 Retail Trade Liberalization Act reduced the minimum investment per store requirement for foreign-owned retail trade businesses from USD 830,000 to USD 200,000).
Privatization Programmes
The Philippine Government’s privatization program is managed by the Privatization and Management Office (PMO). At the moment, no regulations discriminate against foreign buyers and the bidding process appears to be transparent.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Tenders Info , Tenders in the Philippines
Asian Development Bank , Procurement Plans in Asia
DgMarket , Tenders Worldwide

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Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
The "Negative List" has several economic sectors reserved entirely or partially for nationals. Among others there are: mass media, the retail trade, advertising, public services, small-scale mining, private security and utilization of marine resources.

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Finding Assistance For Further Information

Other Useful Resources
Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Doing Business Guides
Business Guide to the Philippines - Deloitte
World Bank's Doing Business - Philippines
Deloitte Tax Guide - Philippines

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Latest Update: June 2024