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The gunmakers of the Philippines

A shot rings out from a factory on the outskirts of the Philippines’ second-biggest city, Danao Cebu.

But this isn’t an all-too-frequent drive-by killing or an argument that has become violent.

The sound is from a testing range at Shooters Arms, the country’s second-largest gun factory.

Shooters Arms produces about 20,000 pistols and shotguns every year, 85% of which are sold abroad — mainly to the United States, Canada, Italy and Thailand.

Operations manager Romel de Leon has big plans — he wants to expand into new markets in Eastern Europe and even South America.

His business has a lot of competitive advantages. He has low labour costs and a highly skilled workforce using a mix of specialised machines and painstaking manual precision to produce high-quality weapons.

He also has a lucrative local market. Filipinos love their guns — even the president is an enthusiast — and the national police say there are 1.2 million registered firearms in the country.

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