Aug 252013

MANILA, Philippines – The Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines (FOBAP) is seeking funding support from the government to revive the country’s garments industry.

The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. in a statement, cited FOBAP president Robert Young as saying that the projects costing around P5 million include industry mapping for garments and hard goods sectors, compliance program and “invite the CEO (chief executive officer)” project.

Young said factories need to comply with implementing requirements and regulations on child labor, clean and safe environment and minimum wage.

He said compliance to the requirements and regulations is important so that “the big buyer companies with big quantities and buying program will place orders.”

“If not, the factories can just settle with the small quantity buyers which usually have lower buying prices,” he said.

He also said there is a need to bring back the so-called “invite the CEO” project which has been effective in terms of regaining foreign buyers.

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The “invite the CEO” project was implemented during the Martial Law years, when the country experienced crisis and foreign markets stopped purchasing goods.

“What we did last time, we invited all the top CEOs and buyers of the major department stores abroad, all expenses paid for like four to five days. We told them that Manila was ready to serve you, we were still here and the industry was being revived,” Young said.

With the implementation of the three projects, the group is optimistic the garments sector can regain at least a fourth of all the jobs that have been lost in the past years.

“We lost about 300,000 to 500,000 jobs in the past six to seven years in the garments sector alone. We just hope to get one-fourth of that maybe 150,000 to 200,000 jobs… Employment generation is what we need in our country,” he noted.

The group also wants to recover lost revenues.

“In FOBAP, we used to export all together $30 billion in 30 years. This time, we are just targeting maybe half of that with this reignition of the industry. So we want this kind of revival,” he said.

The Philippine garments industry reached peak revenues in the mid ‘80s to ‘90s.

Revenues started to decline however, following the lifting of the country’s export quota of garments to the US and China which opened its economy for international trade and other countries like Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Bangladesh offered lower prices compared to local firms.

Earlier, the local garments industry said it is pushing for the passage of the Save Our Industries Act, a measure which will allow the duty-free entry of Philippine-made apparel using American fabrics to the US.

The local garments industry also wants the country to qualify for the European Union’s Generalized Scheme of Preference Plus status in order to get more tariff reductions from the region.

Data from the National Statistics Office showed that outbound shipments of garments were valued at $1.57 billion last year, 17.03 percent lower than in 2011. Textile exports also went down by 7.26 percent year-on-year to $170.36 million in 2012.

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