The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of the Government of Philippines is seeking duty free access and preferential treatment for garments to be exported to the US, particularly apparel products that are manufactured from areas devastated by the typhoon ‘Yolanda’ (international name ‘Haiyan’).
Gregory L Domingo, Secretary of DTI, told reporters that Philippines will ask the US Government to grant duty-free entry for some goods, especially apparel, produced in areas affected by the typhoon, as part of the Filipino Government’s efforts for rehabilitation in these areas.
The DTI Secretary explained that he on behalf of DTI has already discussed the proposal with Philippines Ambassador to Washington Jose Lampe Cuisia, for the possibility of drafting a bill to allow preferential access on some export products, including garments, to the US market over a limited period of time.
The objective of seeking duty-free access to US is to encourage labor-intensive industries, like the garments sector, to set up factories in storm-ravaged areas, such as in Tacloban, Leyte, to generate much-needed employment for affected residents, he added.
Mr. Domingo said, the DTI is currently in talks with garment firms to set up manufacturing facilities in these areas, and the entrepreneurs have expressed interest but their concern is the wage difference, as the minimum wage in Samar and Leyte is around 225 Philippine Pesos, and to make these apparel firms in the typhoon affected areas more competitive the wage should be about 200 Philippine Pesos.
The apparel firms would need some form of subsidy per worker to bridge the wage gap, and the DTI would look into the matter and figure out measures to bridge the gap, he added.