Pandemic drags furniture exports

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    The new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has aggravated the plight of local furniture makers forced to tap the domestic market due to loss of overseas buyers.

    In his speech at the opening of the Asean International Furniture and Furnishings Show (AIFFS) VX 2021 held virtually yesterday, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said furniture exports fell 9 percent in 2020 to $499.014 million from $550.64 million in 2019.

    This led to a decline in its contribution to manufacturing gross value added (GVA) to 0.4 percent in 2020 from 0.5 percent in 2019 a trend set even before the pandemic.

    “One possible reason cited was the loss of overseas buyers, forcing the industry to rely on the domestic market even as it continued to look for new markets abroad,” said Lopez.

    But Lopez said the furniture industry still has huge potential due to the high-quality pieces produced by the Philippines, the so-called “Milan of Asia.”

    He added furniture making is labor-intensive with 98 percent of players categorized as small and medium enterprises, providing 2.1 million indirect workers nationwide and supports 5.4 million others in its supply chain.

    “We need to increase the domestic capacity of furniture companies so as to strengthen their export capability. Thus, we need to push for more investments in this industry, technology that would advance higher-value designs, and new materials to be use,” Lopez said.

    He also advised furniture companies need to adapt to the developing trends, like multi-functional furniture for people working at home.