The Philippine government has promised to lobby hard in its efforts to get a bill giving Philippine-made apparel duty-free access to the United States passed by early next year.

Speaking in a high-level meeting of the Philippine Garments and Textile Association last week, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said: "We hope [the US] will be sympathetic to the needs of Philippine garment makers who have supplied the US market for so many years."

House Resolution 3039 or The Save our Industries Act of 2009 was filed by American Rep. James McDermott (D-Washington) before the US Congress on 25 June 2009.

Under the proposed bill, the Philippines, a former American colony, would be given preferential duty treatment for certain apparel articles sold to the United States.

In particular, Philippine garment manufacturers would be allowed to import and use American textiles for eventual shipment back to the United States as finished garments.

This will allow Philippine garment exports to enter the US duty-free instead of paying the standard 30% to 40% tariff.

Laurence Delos Santos, president of the Confederation of Garment Exporters of the Philippines (CONGEP) said the Save Act could double the total garment revenue earned in 2008 which was pegged at US$2bn.

He added that the industry would also increase employment by 300,000 within three years of the bill being passed.

HR 3039 is currently being deliberated by the US Committee on Ways and Means.