THE Philippines’ failure to take advantage of opportunities from the US-China trade war is reflected in the decline of exports in wearable products, the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (ConWEP) said.

ConWEP Executive Director Marites Jocson-Agoncillo told reporters at an investment forum on Tuesday that the expected growth did not come and that she was taking the decline as a warning.

“I’m not enjoying the trade war. That’s a very big sign — how come we don’t have growth? There’s a trade war — but (orders) are not coming in for apparel,” Ms. Jocson-Agoncillo said in English and Filipino.

ConWEP initially forecast 15-20% export revenue growth in 2019, but assumed that the Philippines captures some of the market from China.

Instead, ConWEP saw a 15% decline in textiles in the first seven months of 2019. Apparel exports fell 4%, while footwear rose 27%, and travel goods up 5%.

She said investments are shifting to Myanmar due to the country’s lower labor costs. In her presentation, she estimated Myanmar’s monthly wage at about $85-95, compared with the Philippines’ $190-274.

Ms. Agoncillo added that the reduced fiscal incentives proposed in the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA) bill add “fuel to the fire.”

She estimates that CITIRA could cause job displacement in the apparel sector of 40% in the first 12-18 months.

“The cost of doing business is already very, very tough on us. And then there’s this added threat,” she said. — Jenina P. Ibañez