Garments makers eye $500-M export orders as foreign buyers move out of Myanmar

Local garments factories expect to receive new orders worth up to US$500 million from top global fashion brands as they start transferring production orders from troubled Myanmar to the Philippines and other Asian countries, providing huge relief to the pandemic-hit industry.

Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines (FOBAP) president Robert Young said the group has been securing relocated garment and apparel production export orders and inquiries on a fresh buying import program in the past week from buyers like Zeeman Europe, Walmart, TJ MAx USA, and Hudsons Canada, among others.

“Rough estimates totalling to US$200 million to date have been booked and FOBAP projects double in quantity in the coming three to four months,” he said.

Young said orders received by FOBAP mostly comprise simpler and basic babies’ playwear, men’s athletic and sporting outfit, ladies’ dresses, and intimate apparel.

“It’s (orders) there already, it’s being sized up already. It will be on the floor I think in about two weeks’ time on production because we have to wait for their fabric, as I said we don’t fabric in the Philippines,” he added.

Young said the expected US$500 million worth of transferred orders can bring total exports of garments and hard goods facilitated by FOBAP to about US$1.7 billion to US$2 billion this year.

“With the pandemic still on, this is a big relief to the Philippines’ ailing garment textile and garment sector, translated to an additional foreign revenue earnings, significant number of employment generation, and livelihood support,” he said.

Young estimates job creation at 10,000 to 20,000 in factories located in Metro Manila and Cebu.

“This will somehow snowball already because all the related industries will again be active such as transportation, packaging, food, so forth and so on, “he added.

To capture projected total export orders from top global fashion brands, Young urged the government to further support export activities, such as easing of the coronavirus quarantine and over restrictive pandemic regulations while still following the required health protocol amid the pandemic.

“I hope it (modified general community quarantine) will happen and if it happens, then everything will continue because factories will hum again, the machines will hum again, and the laborers will be coming in again, (and) transportation will be added. This is the very first basic thing that the government can do,” he said.

Young added there should be no red tape that may be incurred by the exporters in the clearing of fabrics.

“The fabric and everything should have a special lane. Perhaps they should be treated like a special project when it comes to Myanmar (transferred) order. Because it is now an urgent thing for them to be shipped out, most of them are fashion goods and they have season to catch up,” he said.

Young also underscored the importance of providing loans with moderate interest to the factories that want to open-up.

“And if there will be some financial help from the bank and with the guarantee from the government, then this will all be put into play and I’m sure it will be a success,” he said.

Moreover, Young said suspending wage hike during the pandemic is also imperative.

“There is now a clamor for P100 increase but if this will be done, then definitely, we will be losing this Myanmar chance,” he added.

The Myanmar coup d’ etat started on February 1 this year when the military seized power and detained State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and several political leaders.

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