JANUARY 25, 2010 (STAR) Export industry leaders are bullish the battered sector is going to stage a recovery this year.

Speaking before the first national meeting of the 3,000 strong Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport), newly elected president of the umbrella organization of exporters Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis said “the year of the Tiger is the year of recovery for our sector.

“Recovery from a very difficult crisis we did not even create is a difficult climb as we have experienced during the trade slump of 2001. The first step is for us to have faith in ourselves that we can pull through,” Ortiz-Luis exhorted.

“Then we will work together and individually, to make it happen. We are over the hill now, “ he added after noting that the two-digit retreat since October 2008 slowed down to single-digit ebb last October and went back to the positive path last November.

Interviews with key industry leaders after the conference showed that actual orders towards the end of last year and early this year are coming back.

Myrna Bituin, a first time Philexport trustee representing the furniture industry said orders from Europe and the Middle East are filling in the drastic decline in furniture demand from the United States.

“We may not yet be able to bring back the volume of furniture exports to pre-crisis levels. But if we can add exports to the newly prosperous countries in Asia, particularly China and India, plus sales of top quality furniture to Europe and the Middle East, we hope to get back on solid footing this year,” Bituin, a pillar of the furniture industry in Central Luzon, said.

It will need hard work opening new markets since before the crisis, the United States took in up to 90 percent of exports from Central Luzon, she told Philexport News and Features.

“Exporters in Cebu are recovering,” intimated Allan Suarez, chairman of Philexport Cebu. “Fashion jewelry is staging a comeback, but furniture is still having a hard time.” He said that the furniture sector in Cebu held on the growth path in the first half of the year-long trade decline, but was hard hit in the second half of last year.

Almost all other sectors said that many of their members got through the long sales drought abroad as a result of the global recession by tailoring their products to the needs of the domestic market and selling locally.

In the case of the furniture sector, an increase in demand from new hotels and restaurants that mushroomed in different tourism centers in the country last year, plus new home built by OFW families made up for trickling orders from the US.

Ortiz-Luis revealed that under the Philippine Export Development Plan now being updated to deal with the lingering recession in the West and the impact of climate change on a big segment of the resource and food-based industries, intensification of export promotion to the Asian markets is one of the strategies. – Philexport News and Features

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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