THE Export Marketing Bureau reports that from January to April of this year, exports of electronics was highest at more than $8 million but items which posted the highest increase were in wearables such as fashion accessories, bags, shoes, and jewelry at 91.77 %. This was followed by homestyle such as furniture, decors, and giftware at 26 % and coconut products at almost 22% increase.
Shipbuilding and minerals came in second and third to complete the top three exports of the country at $1,673.84 million and $1,052.30 million respectively. Those that need a lot more push are processed and fresh food and beverages and marine and aquaculture which posted a negative 22.19%, negative 42.98%, and negative 44.71% growth.
Garments posted only more than nine percent growth, bad considering that it used to be the top export product of the Philippines in the’80s. What is happening to the garments industry? At the end of the quota regime, the Garments and Textile Industry Development Office (GTIDO) had more than P400 million in its coffers. This money was supposed to assist the garments industry players transition through the Garments Transformation Implementation Plan (GTIP). In 2012, GTIDO was placed under the supervision of the Center for International Trade, Expositions and Missions (CITEM) by DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo. It would be nice if some explanation was given as to where the funds are now and how has it been spent.
Quite a coincidence that we bumped into one industry player who laments of poor government support especially now that the International Monetary Fund is urging Philippine factories and sub-contractors of apparel, footwear and home furnishings to diversify and to comply with social practices required by most major importing countries.
Foreign buyers’ representatives through FOBAP President Robert Young are urging local exporters and manufacturers to brace themselves for social compliance audits, noting the Philippines can lose as much as US $ 500 million in potential export revenues yearly due to non-compliance.
“As a requirement of most major importing buyers, the goods should not be only of global quality standards, but must also be produced in a responsible and socially compliant factory that meets the basic standards for human rights,” he said. Young said the buyers will not place orders if Philippine factories are not socially compliant with regulations of importing countries.
“Most major American and European chain stores and importing companies require CSR (corporate social responsibility audits). It’s a ‘shape up or ship out’ thing for Philippine exporters,” he stressed.
The audit system covers mainly areas of basic human rights, no-child labor policy, labor and management agreement practice, correct labor wages, observance of local laws and environmental sustainability, among others.
Young said FOBAP members have authorized auditors, some coming from American and European head offices, but some factories appoint local auditors like SGS and Intertek.
Now, should this happen, many shops will close and many workers will be added to the list of unemployed. So what is government doing to intervene? For once, be proactive and not reactive. After all, there’s P450 million to spend for the industry so why not spend it if it means saving the garments industry?
By the way, since when have we become importers of garbage? Must be a lucrative business but certainly does not look good and smell good to the world for the Philippines to be a dumpster!
God is Great!