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Garments industry hopes to regain 150,000 jobs

The garments industry is pinning its hopes on several projects meant to regain at least a quarter of jobs lost in the past six to seven years, the Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines said over the weekend.

In its statement, the FOBAP explained that it is seeking funding support from the government to implement three projects aimed to revive the garments industry.

The three projects include a proposed industry mapping for garments and hard goods, the initiation of compliance programs for factories, as well as an “invite the CEO” project.

The group said the projects are important “so the big buyer companies with big quantities and buying programs will place orders, if not, the factories can just settle with the small quantity buyers which usually have lower buying prices.”

The group envisions mapping which factories produce which materials, ensuring compliance to labor and environmental regulations and inviting the CEOs and buyers of major international department stores to the Philippines.

FOBAP said the industry “used to export all together $30 billion in 30 years.”

For its part, the Trade department has said that it wants to help revive the garments industry and is pushing for the country’s inclusion in the GSP+ (generalized system of preferences) program of the European Union which will provide zero import duties to certain products, including garments.

150,000 jobs

The garments industry saw a decline six or seven years ago due to cheaper labor and costs to produce materials in other countries. With the programs, FOBAP aims to regain at least 150,000 jobs

“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,” said FOBAP President Robert M. Young.

The decline is largely attributed to the lifting of the United States garments quota coinciding with China opening its doors to international trade, which offered lower prices than the Philippines’.

In 2013, garment exports from January to June have dropped 14.76 percent to $921.05 million from $785.07 million in the same period last year.

In June, garments exports fell 26.31 percent to $109.656 million from $148.8 million in the year previous.

The government is targeting 2013 growth of 10 percent. — PDC/BM, GMA News