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PH garment industry urges Senate’s concurrence on RCEP

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The Senate plenary hall (Photo from THEPHILBIZNEWS/MAS)

Believing in the trade opportunities that will be created by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement garments industry in the Philippines urged the Senate to approve

The Confederation of Wearables Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP) and its affiliate, the Coalition of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP), noted that the RCEP Agreement is already enjoyed by RCEP signatories such as Vietnam — the Philippines’ closest competitor in the industry—since 01 January 2022. The RCEP allows manufacturers from member countries to source raw materials such as yarn and fabric worldwide, with the finished products qualifying for preferential tariff treatment under the Agreement.  

CONWEP Executive Director Marites Jocson-Agoncillo and CPMP Executive Director Rosette Carillo, through their letter furnished to the DTI, remarked that global brands have redirected their orders to the Philippines from Viet Nam due to the hesitation of the latter’s workforce to return to the factories because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

According to Executive Directors Jocson-Agoncillo and Carillo: “We need RCEP to sustain such opportunities. Otherwise, we again lose these orders, as well as significant planned investments on apparel and textile from countries such as China, Taiwan, and others, to Viet Nam which is expected to resume its operations in the next couple of months.” 

The sector was among those affected by the slowdown in the economic activities brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and is still reeling from its effects. CONWEP’s data highlighted that almost 20,000 direct workers were displaced due to the global pandemic. Pre-pandemic, the sector employed 260,000 to 280,000 workers. 

In line with this, Diana H. Santos, President Emerita of the Garment Business Association of the Philippines (GBAP), has reaffirmed their support through a letter to the Department on the Philippines’ joining the RCEP. 

We opine that the Philippines would be at a trade disadvantage if we are not part of the aforementioned partnership”, she wrote. 

The RCEP Agreement entered into force on 01 January 2022 for 10 Signatory States, namely – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam, Australia, China, Japan, and New Zealand. The Agreement will be implemented by South Korea on 01 February 2022. 

The RCEP agreement was ratified by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last 02 September 2021 and is under Senate deliberations to secure concurrence. 

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