Saving our garments and textile industry

Published by rudy Date posted on April 7, 2011


SINCE 2006, the garments and textile sector has been experiencing a steady decline in export growth until last year. In a data provided by NSO, the total Philippine exports in 2010 for wearables (garments and textile, fine and costume jewelry, bags, and footwear) amounted to $1,442,250 million with garments and textile accounting for 83 percent, or approximately $1.2 million. It is a far cry from the golden days of garments and textile when exports used to reach as much as $2 billion. All is not lost, however.

The Department of Trade and Industry through the Garments and Textile Industry Development Office (GTIDO) is supporting not only the revival of the industry but also the effort to put the country back in the map as the garments hub of Asia for manufacturing and design. An offshoot of the Garments and Textile Export Board (GTEB), GTIDO is taking a three-pronged approach for this purpose: market access, industry development and trade and investments promotion.

The United States is the biggest market for Philippine apparel with 80 percent of exports going to it followed by the Netherlands, a far second, Canada at third, UK and UAE at fourth and fifth place, respectively. That is the reason why efforts have been focused for the most part to secure a preferential trade agreement with the USA for garments and textile. Under the Save Act bill, now pending in the US Congress, the Philippines will produce garments using American textile, yarns and fabrics. The finished product would then be exported to the US duty-free.

The dwindling trade in textile and apparel has led to a significant loss of jobs in the Philippine garment sector. In the last five years, the 600,000-strong garments workers declined to 180,000. The SAVE Act would result in creating and restoring jobs lost in the Philippine garments sector, which stand at more than 400,000 workers.

No less than President Noynoy Aquino has cited the significance of this bill. At a time when most of our OFWs are being repatriated from Japan and the Middle East, the prospects the passage of SAVE Act brings will be most welcome.

Increased trade in textiles and garment is also expected to enhance the commercial well-being of the US textile industry, which is also in dire straits. This can lead to more jobs for US textile workers as this will open a market for the entry of US fabrics into Asia. The SAVE Act is supported by a number of major US textile mills and apparel brands and retailers and by the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), the National Retail Federation (NRF), and the US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel.

After realizing how SAVE Act will result in direct benefits to American and Filipino families and how it will revitalize the strong and historical trade and economic relations between the Philippines and the United States, Filipino-American leaders pledged to help ensure the Act’s passage by reaching out and urging their legislators to support the bill.

With election year coming up in the US, this is a last ditch effort to have the bill passed. Below is an excerpt from the column of our kababayan Ed Navarra, National Chair of NaFFAA (National Federation of Fil-American Associations).

* * *

Keyboard Blues Re-introducing the SAVE Act
By Eduardo Navarra

The SAVE Our Industries Act S. 3170 didn’t pass the lame duck session of congress last year. Last month the bill was reintro-duced under the sponsorship of four senators, Sen. John Ensign (R) NV, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) HI, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) HI, and Sen. Chris Bond (R) MO.
If enacted, the SAVE Act would create in a few years about 3,000 new jobs in the American textile industry and 200,000 highly skilled garment making jobs in the Philippines when US duty-free treatment is applied to Philippine—assembled clothing and apparel goods from American made fabrics and textiles. The bill is backed by major US textile mills, apparel trade associations, clothing manufacturers and wholesalers

This bill is being re-studied and re-submitted to the Senate Committee on Finance chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D) MT, with 13 Democratic and 11 Republican senators as members. Sen. Orin Hatch (D) UT, Sen Jeff Bingaman-(D)NM, Sen. Maria Cantwell-(D) WA, Sen. Ben Cardin (D)MD, Sen. Thomas Carper (D)DE, Sen. Thomas Coburn (R) OK, Sen. Kent Conrad (D) ND, Sen. John Cornyn (R) TX, Sen. Mike Crapo (R) ID, Sen. John Ensign (R) NV, Sen. Michael Enzi (R)WY, Sen. Charles Grassley, (R) IA, Sen. John Kerry (D)MA, Sen. John Kyl (R)AZ, Sen. Robert Menendez (D)NJ, Sen. Bill Nelson (D) FL, Sen. Pat Roberts (R)KS, Sen. John Rockefeller (D)WV, Sen. Charles Shumer (D)NY, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D)MI, Sen, Olympia Snowe (R)ME, Sen. John Thune (R)SD, Sen. Ron Wyden (D)OR.

FilAm community leaders from across the country are urged to call their senators and representatives early to co-sponsor the SAVE Act. Now that many of our kababayans are being repatriated back to our homeland because of the turmoil in the Middle East, the tragedy in Japan and hard economic times in N. Marianas, Tinian and Saipan Islands. We need more than ever to push for passage of this bill.

Last year, Filipino world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, has called on Filipinos in America to fight for the SAVE Act.

Pacquiao’s video appeal was posted on \t “_blank” SAVE supporters were urged to e-mail their two senators and representatives via the website: \t “_blank” –Thelma Dumpit-Murillo, Manila Times

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