A bill giving some Philippine-made apparel duty-free access to the United States has been re-introduced in the US Senate, in a move that supporters believe “provides clear and unmistakable benefits for workers in the United States and the Philippines.”

The Save Our Industries Act or SAVE Act follows similar legislation which was filed in the US Senate last year but was not taken up by Congress.

“By eliminating duties on apparel products made of US fabric, the Philippines has a meaningful opportunity to grow its apparel industry while supporting the US textile industry,” notes Kevin Burke, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA).

The SAVE Act represents the first trade-enhancing legislation between the United States and the Philippines since 1974. 

Its advocates claim the legislation would expand textile and apparel trade, encourage economic development in the Philippines, and strongly protect against abusive trans-shipment practices through strict customs enforcement.

The Act would grant duty-free treatment to garments wholly assembled in the Philippines, providing they are made from US-made materials such as yarn and cotton. US yarns and fabrics would also be granted duty-free entry to the Philippines.

The proposed measure could create some 200,000 jobs in the Philippines – as well as helping US textile exports to the Philippines grow from US$13.5m in 2009 to US$500m in five years.

However, critics say the bill fails to deliver for the US textile industry because it contains special exceptions allowing duty-free access for non-US fabric.

For example, linings, narrow elastic fabrics, sewing thread, and pocketing, could come from any source; and a de minimis provision allows for up to 10% of the fibre or yarn (except for elastomeric yarn) in the fabric to be foreign.