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has been suspended due to the effects of deforestation. There is a moderately sized mining industry, producing copper, gold, silver, nickel and coal. Offshore oil production is due to begin in the next few years. Most of the Philippines' recent economic development has been industrial, with food processing, oil refining, and the production of chemicals, electrical machinery, metal goods and textiles all having been established during the last twenty years. Broad financial incentives aimed at attracting foreign investment capital and the creation of five export processing zones (EPZ), with concessionary tax rates and tariffs, prompted strong growth during the early and mid-1990s. The economic growth came to a shuddering halt in late 1997 when the collapse of the region's currencies produced a stock market crash, high inflation, the cessation of foreign investment and a large budget deficit. El Niño, the climatic system which has wrought periodic havoc upon the Philippines, then worsened the situation still further. Although the Philippines was one of the countries most affected by the 1997 Asian financial crisis, it has since recovered well - a reflection of the increasingly robust nature of the economy. Current annual growth is a healthy 4.5% (with industrial production up by 9% on the previous year). Although there remains the threat of political instability, the economy is in reasonably good shape. The Philippines belong to the Association of South East Asian Nations (the anti-Communist bloc which is now assuming an important economic role) and the Asian Development Bank. The country has a trade surplus with most of its major trading partners, including the USA, the UK and The Netherlands.

Business: The weather is almost uniformly warm and humid and so short-sleeved shirts, preferably with a tie, can be worn for business visits. However, with most offices being air- conditioned, it is best to wear safari suits or a long-sleeved Filipino barong tagalog when visiting top business officials and executives. Prior appointments are necessary and it is customary to exchange business cards. Filipinos have an American business style and English is widely spoken. Best months for business visits are October to November and January to May. Unless one has urgent business matters to attend to, business visits around Christmas and Easter are not recommended as delays tend to be unavoidable. Office hours: These vary. Usually 0800-1200 and 1300-1700 Monday to Friday. Some private sector offices are open 0800-1200 Saturday.

Commercial Information: The following organisations can offer advice: Philippine Trade and Investment Promotion Office, 1a Cumberland House, Kensington Court, London W8 5NX (tel: (020) 7937 1898; fax: (020) 7937 2747; e-mail: dpalondon@philtipo.demon.co.uk); or Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ground Floor, CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City (tel: (2) 833 8591; fax: (2) 833 8895; e-mail: pcciintr@mozcom.com; web site: http://www.philcham.com).

Conferences/Conventions: 102 establishments belong to the Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation (PCVC). It has offices in New York, Sydney and Tokyo. For further general information, contact the PCVC (see address section).

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