Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation, Inc. (CFIF) position paper on the draft Philippine Export Development Plan 2011-2013
The Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc. (CFIF) is an organization of Cebu-based furniture manufacturers and exporters who have a common vision to make the Philippine furniture industry the leader in high-quality, design-oriented furniture and furnishings in Southeast Asia.
Throughout its 35-year existence, CFIF has adhered to its commitment to contribute to the sustainable growth of the Philippine export furniture industry through promotions, human resource development and advocacy.
It is with this commitment in mind that CFIF respectfully submits its position on the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) for 2011-2013.
- Based on the PEDP consultation/workshop for Visayas, held on 25 August 2010, the furniture industry has identified its top three priority products as:
- mixed media furniture that use wood, natural fibers (such as abaca, sinamay, sig-id, water hyacinth or lampakanay, tikog, nito, sea grass, raffia and pandan), stone (such as agate, fossilized limestone and Mactan stone), rattan (such as palasan, calape, tumalim, arorog, agsam), shells and metal
- wood alone (such as Philippine mahogany, Gmelina, Acacia, Robles and Kamagong)
- Outdoor furniture made of plastic and/or stone
- In the same workshop and based on the sector’s Sectoral Export Marketing Plan (SEMP), the furniture industry’s priority markets are:
- The European Union (Germany, theNetherlandsandItaly)
- Middle East (Saudi Arabia)
- United States of America
- TheCebufurniture exporters forecast the following export growth scenario:
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Although these are conservative forecasts and may be maximize with strong government support in the area of marketing and promotions, and harmonization of rules and regulations of concerned government agencies, any growth in the industry will mean more jobs being created. For instance, with the slight uptick in production and export shipments in the last quarter of 2009 and in the first quarter of 2010, several furniture manufacturers/exporters have started to re-open positions that were closed earlier as a result of downsizing efforts.
In 2006, prior to the crisis, the furniture and furnishings industry inCebuemployed between 80,000 to 100,000 people. Bureau of Customs (BOC) data show that there were 578 furniture and furnishings exporters inCebuat that time. In May 2010, data from the BOC shows that the number ofCebuexporters fell to 160.
The amount of jobs being lost by the closure of furniture and furnishings manufacturing companies is tremendous. The industry’s work force is composed mainly of people whose skills have been developed through years. Many of these skills have been passed on from one generation to the next. In many companies, entire families are involved in the production, such as the weavers. In addition to direct employees, many communities are dependent on the industry for livelihood as suppliers of raw and semi-processed materials. Thus, focusing on the industry’s recovery would bring back those jobs and put life into the local economy.
- Through the PEDP, we raise the following priority policy concerns/policy support needs:
- There is a need to ban the exportation of raw materials that are being used in the manufacturing industry
- To take full advantage of international trade agreements, we ask that consultations with concerned sectors be conducted with the following considerations:
- i. Ample lead time or advance notice of consultation meeting so that sectors can research and prepare their positions
- ii. Involve business support or industry organizations in the consultation
- iii. There should be industry representation in formal committees that are tasked to draft international trade strategies
- iv. Put effort into making provisions of international trade agreements understandable to industry representatives
- v. Establish an efficient and effective feedback system on consultation outputs so that concerned sectors would know which of their concerns have been integrated into the trade agreement or government positions in international trade agreement negotiations.
- Establish an incentive system for companies that manufacture products that are made of sustainable materials (natural and do not harm the environment, are harvested in a sustainable manner) and manufactured using sustainable processes, which do not pollute and consume less energy.
- The sector’s priority promotional support needs are:
- Promotional support for the three Philippine furniture and home furnishings shows: CEBUNEXT, Manila FAME and Manila Now
- Financial and market intelligence support for selling/study missions and trade fairs, as well as other market penetration strategies to identified markets.
Based on the sector’s priority markets, we have identified the following fairs and shows as our priorities: 1) the Salone Internationale del Mobile, held in April of every year inMilan,Italy; 2) the Index Furniture Mumbai in Mumbai,Maharashtra,India, conducted every October; and 3) theChina(Shanghai) International Furniture Exhibition.
- The sector believes that inputs and/or strategies (for product market, negotiations, export policy) that are important to the growth and development of the industry are hinged on:
- Positioning ofCebufurniture and furnishings industry, as well as the Gifts, Decors and Houseware (GDH), as destination of sustainably produced products and designs
- In-plant productivity enhancement programs, trainings and testing facility
- Maximizing benefits from international trade agreements, which can be made possible by integrating the concerns and issues of the sector in international trade strategy
- Pursuing an agenda that is focused on competitiveness, which should include a systematic and progressive approach to eradicating graft and corruption, whereby bringing down the cost of doing business in the country
- Linking up furniture and furnishings and GDH industries with the tourism industry.
CFIF believes that the PEDP can be an effective and efficient platform for public and private partnership that will propel the furniture and furnishings industry towards recovery and further growth.
We cannot overemphasize the contribution of the manufacturing and export industry in the country’s economic growth. The industry’s contribution will not only be in terms of government revenues (taxes and duties), but its greater impact will be in the creation of jobs, in empowering the labor force that fuels real economic growth and development.
We wish to express our gratitude that we have been given a chance to submit our position on such a significant plan that will serve as framework for the government’s export development agenda.