Gov't support sought for garments, hardgoods sectors

THE Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines (Fobap) is seeking some funding from the government to support the implementation of three projects costing around P5 million crucial for reviving the garments and hardgoods industries in the country.

Fobap president Robert Young said these include the industry mapping for garments and hardgoods sectors, the compliance program and "invite the CEO (chief executive officer)" project.

Young explained that factories need to be compliant in implementing requirements and regulations such of child labor, clean and safe environment and minimum wage.

"(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.

Young also cited the need for the revival of so-called "invite the CEO" project which proved effective in regaining foreign buyers.
He recalled that such project was implemented during the Martial Law years when the country experienced crisis and foreign markets stopped buying.

"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," he added.

With the implementation of these three projects, Young is optimistic that the garments sector can regain at least a fourth of all the jobs lost.

"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.

Young said they also hope 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 re-ignition of the industry. So we want this kind of revival," he added.

Young recalled that the Philippine garments industry reached peak revenues in mid '80s to '90s.

"The decline started when the US garments quota was lifted. Then, China opened their international trade and other countries like Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Bangladesh followed. All of them quoted lower prices than the Philippines," he said. (PR)
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