South Korea is the sixth biggest trading partner of the Philippines, and currently ranks on the fifth position in terms of investment in the country. South Korea also provides the biggest tourist market for the Philippines which shows the potential of this relation.
More Korean investors are taking an interest in the Philippines in light of the country’s improving economy, most recently rated to investment grade by international debt watchers such as Fitch and Moody’s. The total value of trade between South Korea and the Philippines was estimated at $11.5 billion in 2012, an increase from the 2011 total of $10 billion. As of October of 2013, this number has reached $11.5 million. Remarkable. The key industries are Manufacturing, Real Estate and Tourism.
The country’s close proximity to Korea (Seoul is about three-and-a-half hours by plane from Manila) and warm climate (no winter) makes it an attractive destination for South Koreans. The comparatively low cost of education in the Philippines is the primary reason why numerous Korean students come to learn and practice speaking English in the country. The Philippines is the world’s 3 rd largest English – speaking country of 90 million people who are friendly to foreigners and have long been exposed to western culture. The country also has a very young and robust population with an average age of 22.5 years that grows by 1.95% annually. Its total labor force is 36.8 million.
Situated in the heart of Asia, the world’s fastest-growing region and gateway for international shipping and aviation, the Philippines is within 4 hours flying time to key Asian cities. With Korea-ASEAN FTA and the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) in place, it is a suitable distribution hub that can service the 570 million ASEAN consumers and the 100 million Philippine domestic market.
Some of the remarkable investments from Korean investments in the Philippines include the Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction in Subic and KEPCO whose generating plants account for 12% of the Philippines power supply. Other companies such as Samsung and LG Electronics are also increasing their assets in the Philippines. Despite the recent natural disaster and its consequences for the Philippines’ reputation, considering the characteristics of this country and its people, it is my opinion that the number will not be decreasing anytime soon.