By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
Special to PINOY Newsmagazine
CHICAGO (JGLi)–US Congress is breathing life into the moribund textiles and apparel industry between the US and the Philippines when Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri introduced S. 3170, the ‘Save Our Industries Act of 2009′ or the `SAVE Act’, that will “recover $1.32-billion by year two of SAVE’s implementation and up to $3-billion by year five” and will “generate 50,000 jobs in year two and 200,000 in year five.”
The measure, which has picked up co-sponsorship of the two Democratic Hawaii Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel K. Akaka, has also been introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott (Dem.-WA-7), senior member of the House Ways & Means Trade Subcommittee, under H.R. 3039, which has gained co-sponsorship from 11 congressmen led by Congressman Brian Bilbray (Rep.-CA-50) and Filipino American Congressman Steve Austria (Rep.-OH-7).
This piece of legislative news was brought to the attention of Filipino American newsmen across the US last May 6 during a teleconference call presided over by Senior Undersecretary Thomas G. Aquino of the Philippine Department of Trade & Industry from Washington, D.C.
Glenn G. Penaranda, Special Trade Representative of the Philippine Trade & Investment Center, also introduced during the teleconference call to the Chicago media the new Consul General Leo M. Herrera-Lim, who just took over the reins of the Philippine Consulate General in the Midwest.
Undersecretary Aquino appealed to the media and the Filipino American leaders to help promote the SAVE Act “the way you promoted and networked with the Filipino Veterans Equity Act that was passed in the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama last year.”
Aquino said the “apparel and textiles are our second largest export to the U.S. and we appeal to you to encourage every Filipino American to reach out to their corresponding senators and congressmen in your area to support SAVE ACT by writing, emailing, faxing them a letter or calling them or paying them a visit.”
SHELF-LIFE OF SAVE ACT
Although the measure was introduced last year, the “shelf-life” of the SAVE ACT in Congress ends on Dec. 31 this year if it is not passed.
“It is important that you connect to your congressmen and senators as soon as possible. Various Philippine trade representatives in various Philippine consulates across the U.S. should be able to help out if you have questions on the bill,” Aquino added.
He said that Filipino Americans should reach out to their respective senaators and congressmen.
The passage of the SAVE Act will reinvigorate trade between the Philippine apparel industry and the US textile industry and regenerate jobs in both countries.
Both of these industries are suffering from dwindling trade and loss of jobs caused by the massive entry of subsidized and inexpensive textile and apparel products from China, after the lifting of the U.S. import quota regime on these products.
The SAVE Act would make Philippine apparel products more competitive in the U.S. market, and at the same time promote the sale of US yarns and fabrics in the Philippines.
Built on strong and long-standing historical economic ties and friendly relations, the SAVE Act would represent the first significant Philippine-US bilateral trade enhancement and cooperation initiative.
“It is a win-win legislation worthy of support of the Filipino American community that wants to come to the aid of both its native and adopted countries,” according to a news release issued by Mr. Penaranda.
The bill will grant duty-free treatment to certain apparel products wholly assembled in the Philippines, provided that these are made from the US-made fabrics. Those produced from US-made yarns would be levied reduced tariffs. In addition, the bill would grant US duty-free treatment to a limited range of Philippine exports of “cut & sew” apparel products that are not produced in the U.S. and thereby deemed non-sensitive.
The apparel industry estimates that Philippine apparel shipments to the US – down from $2.1 billion in 2006 to $1.0-billion in 2009 – are estimated to recover to $1.32-billion by year two of SAVE’s implementation and to $3-billion by year five; US textile exports to the Philippines is estimated at $13.5-million in 2008, according to records from the Philippine government but at $20-million per U.S. congressional records. These are mostly of fabrics for industrial use that will go up to $250-million by year two and to $500-million by year five.
While there are only 150,000 jobs that remain today from a high of 600,000 during the quota years – incremental job recovery in the apparel industry will reach 50,000 in year two, and 200,000 in year five.
On the US side, direct manufacturing job creation in the capital-intensive U.S. textile industry will also be generated by years two and five, respectively.
Bipartisan co-sponsorship for the SAVE Act includes Representatives Bob Filner (D-CA), co-chair of the Philippine Friendship Caucus, Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), David Dreier (R-CA), Judy Biggert (R-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-LA) and Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA). (firstname.lastname@example.org) •