On Tuesday, June 12th, USA-ITA and USA-ITA Associate Member Sorini, Samet & Associates hosted a webinar on the SAVE Act and opportunities for apparel importers in the Philippines. With over 20 companies and other interested parties on the line, it's clear that the Philippines--and Southeast Asia in general--are hot. 

The presentation was led by Daryl Sando, Director of Trade Policy and Legislative Affairs for Sorini, Samet & Associates. She provided an overview of the Philippines' apparel industry and the status of the SAVE Act. Maria Alvero, Commercial Counselor at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., also joined the call.  

A few key highlights from the presentation include:

  • The apparel industry is the largest employer in the Philippines, and the United States is the country's largest export market for apparel, though production has declined in recent years due to competing nearby countries.
  • The SAVE Act would create a preferential arrangement between the United States and the Philippines where garments sewn in the Philippines receive duty free access to the U.S. market. The Philippines is in particular known for needlework abilities, and the ability to assemble more tailored, embellished products at the mid- to high-end market tier.
  • The SAVE Act was introduced in June 2011, both in the House and Senate. It was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. It has eight bipartisan Senate sponsors and 21 bipartisan House sponsors.
  • The Filipino-American community, along with the U.S. apparel industry, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Counsel, and think tanks, are just a few of the groups who have been urging Congress to support the SAVE Act. 

According to Ms. Alvero, the SAVE Act is also important because it is a "stepping stone to the Trans-Pacific Partnership," as the Philippines has expressed interest in joining the pact. As the first trade initiative between the U.S. and the Philippines in four decades, the SAVE Act is critical to both economic and national security of both nations, the speakers agreed. Not only is the SAVE Act important to the apparel industry, it will also increase economic opportunities for both countries and will strengthen the bond between our nations, they concluded. 

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