Generalizes on the best strategy to enter the market, e.g., visiting the country; importance of relationships to finding a good partner; use of agents.
Agents and distributors are commonly used in the Philippines and are essential for most U.S. companies. See the “Selling U.S. Products & Services” section for more information on using agents and distributors.
Government procurement requires a foreign firm to have a local partner, with certain exceptions. See Section 23.4 - Eligibility Criteria for Procurement of Goods and Infrastructure Projects, Section 24.3 - Eligibility Criteria for Procurement of Consulting Services and Appendix 9 - Guidelines in the Determination of Foreign Suppliers, Contractors and Consultants to Participate in Government Procurement Projects of the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9184 or The Government Procurement Reform Act Updated 2016 IRR_31 March 2021.pdf (gppb.gov.ph).
Most agents and distributors are based in Metro Manila. They cover areas outside Metro Manila or have branches or dealers in major cities such as Cebu City, Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City.
U.S. companies should visit their agents and distributors to strengthen relationships and assess the local companies’ abilities. If possible, they should also visit existing and potential clients with their agents and distributors to promote their product lines and/or better understand client requirements. Many U.S. firms are often quick to make termination decisions with local partners, citing lackluster performance. However, it takes considerable time to build relationships and business in the Philippines and such hasty decisions are not advised. In fact, considering the small size of the business community, U.S. firms should exercise caution in managing such relationships with local partners as finding a new one would prove to be challenging if negative feedback about the U.S. firm makes its way through the community.
U.S. companies should be patient yet diligent in pursuing contracts, particularly projects with the Philippine Government.
U.S. firms seeking agents or distributors in the Philippines are encouraged to use the services of the U.S. Commercial Service Philippines (CS Philippines). For more information, visit https://www.trade.gov/services-philippines. U.S. firms may also contact CS Philippines at Businessphilippines@trade.gov or a local U.S. Export Assistance Center (Commercial Service Offices in the U.S. (trade.gov).