More investments, jobs ahead

 Sec Ramon Lopez with AAFA
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez (5th from right) met with senior representatives of leading member companies of the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) in New York City on 31 August 2017 to discuss potential expansion of manufacturing facilities in the Philippines. The trade chief was joined by DTI Undersecretary Rowel Barba (4th from left), Philippine Consul General Maria Theresa Dizon-de Vega (6th from right) and Philippine Special Trade Representative to New York Nicanor Bautista (5th from left). 

NEW YORK—The Philippines continues to strengthen business collaboration with investors and multinational corporations based in the United States.

Speaking to 85 business executives in the Philippine Investment Forum on 31 August, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez highlighted the sound macroeconomic fundamentals of the country, aiming a 7% to 8% increase in GDP annually and reduce poverty from 21.6% in 2015 to 14% by 2022.

The trade chief also shared the government’s focus on infrastructure development with USD 160 billion worth of projects to directly address investors’ concerns on power supply, affordable telecommunications, and efficient transport of goods and services.

At the sidelines of the Forum, Sec. Lopez with DTI Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Atty. Rowel Barba met with different associations and business executives to seek opportunities for the manufacturing industries and to continue the government’s engagement with US business stakeholders.

The trade chief had a roundtable meeting with the members American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) to discuss potential relocation and expansion of their manufacturing facilities in the Philippines. He also encouraged member companies, which include Tellas Limited (formerly Luenthai USA), Under Armour Inc., Michael Kors (USA) Inc., Ralph Lauren Corporation, Coach Inc., and the Ascena Retail Group Inc., (makers of Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant, Dressbarn, and Catherines) to take advantage of the extended duty-free treatment to imports of travel goods (including luggage, handbags, backpacks, tote bags) under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Program.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in New York noted that AAFA members and the brands they carry have increased their presence in the Philippines due to huge domestic market, rapid economic growth and expanding middle class.

Sec. Lopez also met with the officials of a research-centric organization, the US-Philippines Society, for a collaborative project to streamline the country’s revenue-generating operations, to respond to internal and external security concerns, and to mitigate the impact of global warming on vulnerable sectors.

Shearwater CFO and COO Tom Kendrot joined the series of meetings with Sec. Lopez to confirm Shearwater’s expansion through its third operation center in the Philippines, opening in 2018 in Iloilo City.

Shearwater is a US clinical solutions provider, which has clinical process outsourcing operations in Taguig City and Cebu City. Such expansion is expected to bring in USD 7 million worth of investments and increase the company’s labor footprint in the country to 3,000.