Furniture makers seek P50-million government funding support
by Danielle Venz
Cagayan de Oro City (4 December) -- Furniture manufacturers and exporters are seeking a P50-million funding support from the government needed to implement various programs crucial to enable their industry post growth of three to five percent next year.
Salvio L. Valenzuela, Jr., executive director of the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP), said the recovery of the furniture sector in 2011 from this year's zero to one-percent projected growth mainly depends on the funding support.
"Once our programs are not pushed through, there is a danger that at least 450,000 employees from the industry will be displaced. Without the assistance, we will just continue with some of our minor program. For 2011, (growth might be) negative because our competitors are already growing," he stressed.
Valenzuela said the proposed funding support will finance a number of identified product development and market promotion programs that could make the country's furniture industry become competitive.
"We will focus on markets such as Germany, Spain and France. Europe is now fast picking up after the recession. We have to focus on Eastern Europe and Middle East and then Japan and Asian markets like China," he said.
Valenzuela pointed out that most foreign buyers now rely on trade events abroad like the Hong Kong, Frankfurt and Paris shows.
"So you should be also there (in the shows) otherwise, you will not be in the radar screens of the buyers," he said. "It does not mean that if you have a big show here, you reduce your delegation abroad or vice versa. It should be both ways -big shows here and big delegation abroad. This is the model of Thailand and Vietnam."
Valenzuela bared that based on the market information they gathered, the governments of competitors like Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia provide support to their manufacturers, exporters and small and medium enterprises.
"We cannot level the playing field without any similar source of support," he said in an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing 36th Philippine Furniture and Furnishings Show (PFFS).
Valenzuela said the funding support from the government would also help the local furniture and furnishing industry record a drastic growth in the next three years from three to five percent in 2011; five to eight percent in 2012; and eight to 12 percent in 2012.
He stressed that the domestic market is also growing amid a weak export market. The sector's performance is buoyed by condominium developments and the local buyers' appreciation of indigenous materials.
"And of course, (growth was due to) the exposure of our Philippine goods. We are already promoting, exposing our products in various trade shows; they (local consumers) appreciate and buy our products," he said.
More than 60 furniture manufacturers and exporters participating in the ongoing furniture and furnishings show at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City were expected to generate sales of over P12 million in the event. The 10-day show will end this December 5. (PHILEXPORT) [top]