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30/09/2010: Fil-Am Community in Metro DC assures RP Trade Undersecretary of support to RP-US textile and garments bill

Fil-Am Community in Metro DC assures RP Trade Undersecretary of support to RP-US textile and garments bill

30 September 2010, Washington, DC – Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry reiterates the call of Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III for the Filipino-American community to write to their legislators to ask that they co-sponsor the Save Our Industries Act, a bill pending in the US Congress that will create and save jobs in the US textile industry and the Philippine garments sector. The meeting was held at the Embassy of the Philippines.

30 September 2010, Washington, DC – In a meeting held at the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, DC, Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry urged the Filipino community in the metropolitan Washington DC area 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.

Undersecretary Panlilio who is also the head of the Philippine Board of Investments traveled to Washington, DC to meet with US legislators and the Filipino community upon the directive of from Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III.

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.

Including Representative Bilbray, thirteen 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), Gregorio Sablan (D-MP) 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.

Undersecretary Panlilio reported that several other legislators have recently agreed to co-sponsor SAVE Act.

The US market accounts for around eighty percent of Philippine garments exports. The Undersecretary explained that due to the dwindling trade in textile and apparel, the Philippine garments industry suffered significant job loss. He added that the SAVE Act would restore these jobs lost which amount to around 400,000 in the last five years.

With SAVE Act, US textile exports to the Philippines is expected to grow from $13.5 million in 2009 to $500 million in five years. It will also open a market for the entry of U.S. fabric into Asia and would generate more jobs in the U.S. textile sector.

While he has met with US legislators and their staff, Undersecretary Panlilio emphasized that it is the position of the Filipino-Americans, especially during this election season, that matters to members of Congress. The US Congress will be busy from the campaign period until it convenes after the election and it is critical that the Filipino-Americans sustain the campaign for SAVE Act.

During the open forum, the participants in the meeting delivered statements of support and assured the Undersecretary that they will reach out to their legislators to seek their commitment to SAVE Act.

In his closing remarks, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa called on the Filipino community to replicate their efforts that led to the passage of the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Act, the winning of Filipino Efren Peñaflorida as CNN Hero of the Year and other such campaigns that capitalized on the strength of the Filipino-American voters.

More information on the SAVE Act may be accessed via www.saveourindustriesact.org. Sample letters to legislators may also be obtained at http://capwiz.com/americanapparel/issues/alert/?alertid=17905501.-- END