A trade group of local exporters of garments and hard goods such as furniture and footwear is set to promote Philippine-made products to Japanese buyers during the official visit of President Marcos Jr. to Japan next week, aiming to recapture a market worth about $250 million a year.
Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines (Fobap) president Robert Young told the Inquirer that he would be joining the Philippine leader's trade delegation in Tokyo, where he is set to make a pitch to Japanese firms.
"Our biggest buyer then was Yasuda, [which is] now buying from Thailand, India, Vietnam, and China," said Young, referring to the Yasuda Co Ltd, whose businesses include the wholesale distribution of men's and boys' apparel and furnishings.
Young said he would tackle the business-to-business aspects in the garments, apparel as well as furniture sectors during the trade mission.
The Fobap official recalls that the Philippines used to ship at least one 40-foot container full of garments and hard goods to Japan every week for 10 years, equivalent to as much as $250 million a year, but that it has dwindled over the years as other countries became more competitive and wrested purchase orders away from the Philippines.
This time, he said the group would highlight the quality and workmanship of Philippine-made goods, especially of handcrafted products, to encourage them to come back.
"This time we will focus on higher-end products, which other Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) economies are not keen to accept [as they] prefer basic items with big volume," said Young.
Young said the Philippines was also losing out because local electricity costs are significantly higher than those in other Asian countries including Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.
This, according to him, is restricting the competitiveness of Philippine-made products as it is more expensive to operate and produce goods locally compared to other countries.
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