DTI urged to update garments roadmap

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Employers and labor groups are calling on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to update the roadmap for the textile and garment industry to take into account the impact of the pandemic, and for the implementation of strategies to support jobs recovery and generation in the sector.

The appeal, made through Resolution 1 of the Clothing and Textile Industry Tripartite Council, was signed by the Garment Business Association of the Philippines, Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines (FOBAP), and Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines for the employers side, as well as by the Philippine Transport and General Workers Organization, IndustriAll Global Union, Associated Labor Unions, Federation of Free Workers, Alliance of Progressive Labor-Pinag-isang Tinig at Lakas ng Anakpawis, and Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa for the labor sector.

FOBAP president Robert Young said in an email the document was formally submitted to the Department of Labor and Employment, DTI and Board of Investments (BOI) last week.

The groups said they “strongly encourage the DTI to facilitate and expedite the updating of the Textile-Garment Industry Roadmap in light of the changes in the labor market landscape brought by the pandemic, with the end view of establishing a more sustainable and resilient Philippine textile-garment industry.”

Young said there is a need to revisit and update the roadmap, as this was crafted prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the roadmap for the textile and garment industry launched in December 2019, the aim is for the country to be among the top 10 garment exporters in the world by 2026 to 2029.

“We are still looking forward to that BOI meeting where we can say one by one the corrections. We might have to totally revamp the roadmap and update since there is no pandemic mention,” Young said.

He said among the changes the FOBAP would want to see in the roadmap is inclusion of bamboo and abaca as potential materials for textile development.

Aside from updating the roadmap for the textile and garment industry, the groups are also pushing for strategies for jobs recovery and generation, such as providing income support to workers affected by the pandemic through temporary unemployment programs and cash aid, and giving assistance to businesses through access to loans and tax relief packages.

The groups also said there should be programs to retrain, reskill, and retool workers in the textile-garment industry who were displaced or otherwise affected by the pandemic, to enable them to re-enter the labor market under the new normal.

Moreover, the groups want companies that repurposed towards producing medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) that are labor standards compliant to be prioritized in government procurement, provided the companies would endeavor to retain or expand their workforce by working hand in hand with their workers’ representatives.

The groups likewise pushed for the national government procurement for medical-grade PPE strategic 10-year plan to include a stockpiling program, and to stop the importation of substandard medical-grade PPE.

In addition, the groups want continuous social dialogue between and among representatives of the government, labor, and employer sectors to outline further action plans to reinvigorate the textile-garment industry.

Young said there are challenges in meeting the export performance target of $1.5 billion for this year due to the shipping crisis and port congestion overseas.

He said truckers have to wait an average of 14 days to unload goods at the Port of Los Angeles and prices have already been adjusted by an average of 10 percent to cover the costs of the disturbances.

“These are a sure turn off to the buying program and future purchases of the chain stores, coupled with the suspension of US GSP (Generalized System of Preferences), which add costs to the merchandise being imported to US,” he said.

The GSP, which allows duty-free entry for goods from beneficiary countries to the US, expired in December 2020.

“We see a dim 2022 year for the US market and as an antidote, we have begun to develop the other markets such as the European Union, Asian, and other potential countries,” Young said.


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