Trade relations between various Filipino islands and Indian subcontinent may be traced back to the pre-historic times. Findings of Iron Age in Philippines give testimony to the existence of trade between Tamil Nadu and the Philippine Islands during the ninth and tenth centuries B.C.
During 10th to 14th century A.D. trade relations between India and Philippines flourished and there were Indian influences on culture and languages of Philippines.
During the 18th century, there was robust trade between Manila and the Coromandel Coast of India, involving Philippine exports of tobacco, silk, cotton, indigo, sugar cane and coffee.
Since the Spanish period India-Philippines trade declined. After independence the two countries established diplomatic relation, and a friendship treaty was signed on 11 July 1952. But because of differences in foreign policy economic relation between the two countries was restored only during 1970s after Aditya Birla, an Indian industrialist took initiative in establishing Indo-Phil, a joint India-Philippines venture in textiles. There after various steps were taken to restore trade relation between the two countries. Some of the steps are:
A trade agreement signed between the Philippines and India was signed on 29 May 1979.
In 1995, a Joint Working Group and a Joint Business Council were set up to assess and identify potentials for trade as well as identify new areas for collaboration.
The Philippines – India Business Council (PIBC) was organized in 1997.
The Policy Consultation Talks between the two countries were established in 2000.
On May 8, 2002 under the umbrella organization of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), PIBC was convened with the objective of restoring and enhancing business ties and friendly relations with the Indian business community
From November 9-16, 2003, a delegation from PIBC traveled the three major cities of Mumbai, Hyderabad and New Delhi in India.
The Joint Commission on Bilateral Co-operation, to further strengthen and develop the co-operation in the field of trade, economic, scientific, technological and other fields of co-operation was signed during the State Visit to India of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on 5 October 2007.
The inaugural session of the Joint Commission was held on 15 March 2011.
An exhibition was organized by the Synthetic and Rayon Textiles Export Promotion Council of Philippines and rayon textile producers and exporters from India in June 2012 in Manila. Trade between the two countries was increased by 10.8% during 2011-12.
It is expected that with further efforts on the part of the two countries trade between the two countries would rise rapidly benefiting both the economies.