By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Exporters, particularly those engaged in agriculture and forest-based products, gifts, toys, and housewares, are facing excess inventory as buyers have stopped importation being financially squeezed by the devasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation (PhilExport), said that almost all exporters of agriculture and forest-based items cannot export because there is no market.
“Unlike the electronics sector, which is big and can easily export once the lockdowns are over, the processed food, and forest-based products, including furniture, gifts, toys and housewares manufacturers are small,” he said.
With disrupted supply chain, Ortiz-Luis said these small exporters have no way of survival. In the first place, he said, countries are also prioritizing their own businesses by patronizing their purchases toward their own produce. During the almost three months of lockdown, he said, exports were down 50 percent.
PhilExport expects the exports market would need six months to recover and start buying again and rehiring of their workers.
That is why, he said, the launch of “PinasMunaTayo” Campaign is timely to support local companies to shift to the domestic market to sell their products.
He recalled that in the past economic crisis, the furniture sector was the first to suffer as they lost foreign buyers, but the domestic market saved them because the new buildings, condominiums and tourist accommodation facilities that were constructed patronized the use of local furniture products and accessories.
The “PinasMunaTayo” Campaign is spearheaded by the country’s largest umbrella business organization Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Alliance Global Group Inc., and Resorts World Manila. From the government sector, the online movement was supported by three line departments — trade and industry, science and technology, and tourism.
“PinasMunaTayo” advocates for a “Bayanihan” among Filipinos to support local businesses first and spend their money in the Philippines to stimulate the growth of domestic consumption. That includes encouraging the Filipinos to patronize local services in leisure and travel, food and restaurants, retail and shopping, among others.
In line with the projects of participating government agencies, #PinasMunaTayo campaign is focusing on three components, TriPinas to revive the tourism sector by promoting domestic tourism and destinations, ShoPinas to push for buying locally in support to the retail sector, and Las Pinas to reinforce the love for country by experiencing local food and hospitality. The campaign encourages consumers to make conscious choices to help boost the economy post- COVID 19.