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23/08/2010: Filipino-American Community Leaders in Virginia Beach rally behind RP-US textiles and garments bill

August 23, 2010, Virginia Beach, VA – Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa urged leaders of the various Filipino organizations in Virginia Beach to support the Save Our Industries (SAVE) Act which is now pending in the U.S. Congress and is expected to generate thousands of jobs in the US textile industry and the Philippine garments sector.

Introduced by Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) and co-sponsored by Representative Brian Bilbray (R-CA) in June 2009, SAVE Act essentially grants duty-free entry to the U.S. of certain Philippine-made apparel products which used U.S. fabrics. If enacted, the program will facilitate higher levels of trade in textiles and apparel between the United States and the Philippines which would enhance the commercial well-being of the US textile industry and Philippine apparel industry.

The U.S. market accounts for 80 percent of Philippine garment exports. The level of these exports declined from $2.1 billion in 2006 to $1 billion in 2009. Tariffs imposed on imported garments in the U.S. range from 17 to 33 percent.

Including Representative Bilbray, twelve congressmen co-sponsored the bill in the House namely, Representatives Bob Filner (D-CA), 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), Joseph Pitts (R-PA), Charles Djou (R-HI) and Filipino-American Steve Austria (R-OH).

In the Senate, the bill was introduced by Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO) and co-sponsored by the second most senior member of the U.S. Senate and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI). Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) has also signed up as a co-sponsor.

Commercial Counselor Romulo Manlapig of the Philippine Embassy explained that SAVE Act is mutually beneficial to both the Philippines and the United States. The US textile exports to the Philippines is expected to grow from $13.5 million in 2009 to $500 million in five years.

In the U.S., SAVE Act is supported by a number of major U.S. textile mills and apparel brands and retailers and by the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), the National Retail Federation (NRF), and the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel.

SAVE Act would also restore jobs lost in the Philippine garments sector which stand at more than 400,000. For the U.S., this will open a market for the entry of U.S. fabric into Asia, and would also generate more jobs in the U.S. textile sector.

Citing the dedication and hard work that the Filipino-American community demonstrated during the campaign for Filipino Veterans Equity Bill, the Ambassador emphasized that the support of the community is crucial to secure the passage of the bill. Apart from the tangible benefits that would accrue to both nations, SAVE Act would also revitalize the trade and economic cooperation between the Philippines and the United States.

Understanding the significance of SAVE Act in the provision of much needed jobs in the U.S. textile industry and the Philippine garment sector and how it will reinvigorate the long-standing and historical economic ties between the Philippines and the United States, the Filipino-American community in Virginia Beach assured Ambassador Gaa of their support and committed to reach out to their legislators on the issue. -- END

Ambassador Gaa addresses Filipino-American community leaders at the Philippine Cultural Center in Virginia Beach on August 23, 2010 on the Save Our Industries (SAVE) Act, a bill that will result in more jobs in the US textile industry and the Philippine garments sector.