At least $500 million worth of garment and apparel importation from top international buyers, particularly US brands, have been shifted to the Philippines, according to the Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines.

This was announced by Robert M. Young, FOBAP President and trustee of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., in his opening remarks at the virtual forum on the topic “Opening and  Growing Export Markets through FTAs and GSPs”.

Young said there are a few major developments that evolved in favor of the Philippines and should boost the country’s garment exports.

One major development in the garment producing ASEAN region is the political tension in Myanmar, the leading garment production hub in the region.

Robert M. Young, FOBAP President and trustee of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc.,

According to Young, the military takeover in Myanmar has led buyers to shift sourcing to the Philippines giving local garments and textile industry a breather from the adverse effects of the pandemic. 

“Top international, mostly American, fashion brands buying basic babies’ playwear, men’s athletic and sporting outfit, ladies’ dresses and intimate apparel have shifted to the country with an initial order of $500 million or P24 billion this year,” said Young.

“This translates to additional foreign revenue earnings, significant number of employment and livelihood that will somehow snowball already to related industries such as transportation, packaging, food and other sectors,” he added.

Young said the country’s garment and apparel export in 2019 reached $1 billion, but exports last year dropped to $900 million. 

Another development, he said is that more than 80 percent of companies with factories in Japan have begun diversifying their supply chains. 

He cited a recent Nikkei survey, which showed that the pandemic and other disruptions highlight the risks posed by highly streamlined production processes. 

Survey responses varied from curbing dependence on any one single market and a break from past practice that included increasing inventory and procuring more supplies for production facilities in their local countries. Thus, some buyers are diversifying their sourcing strategy.

Another development, he said, is that China and Asia are expected to fill the bulk of surging US demand for goods in 2021 as global trade rebounds from this pandemic. 

Exports from Asia are expected to grow by 8.4 percent this year, with North America driving demand in merchandise trade. US imports are seen to rise by 11.4 percent after declining 6.1 percent last year, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO). 

Finally, he said, the Philippines and Indonesia are reportedly leading ASEAN companies’ COVID-19 vaccine push. Young said this development will help improve the market confidence in these countries and their partners.

Young expressed hope that garment exporters will take advantage of these developments to recoup losses from the impact of the pandemic. 

He noted that movement restrictions have resulted in shortages in raw material and higher costs, cancellations and worse, rightsizing in factories to help control the bleeding. 

“More than ever, exporters also are forced to immediately invest in technology and more market research to make ourselves relevant through all the changes,” he said. 

But being in ASEAN or Asian region can be an advantage because of the various free trade agreements that have been set up for the region. He said these FTAs could help garment firms to restart and grow their business.

Source: Manila Bulletin (