Secretary del Rosario secures commitment of key members of the U.S. Congress, boosts SAVE Act campaign

An April 20, 2012 press release from the Department of Foreign Affairs

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. del Rosario successfully secured the commitment of three Members of the United States Congress to support the Save Our Industries Act (S. 1244, H.R. 2387) or SAVE Act, proposed legislation that would allow for apparel products manufactured in the Philippines using U.S. made fabrics to enter the U.S. duty free.

The three legislators who agreed to support the SAVE Act are Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Competitiveness, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), senior member of the said Subcommittee, and Representative Don Manzullo, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific under the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

On April 17 and 18, Secretary del Rosario, accompanied by Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., met with leaders and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to campaign for the SAVE Act.

(From left) Secretary Albert del Rosario, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia Jr.

Citing President Benigno S. Aquino III’s emphasis on poverty alleviation and job creation, Secretary del Rosario emphasized that the apparel industry remains a very significant sector economically and politically. The SAVE Act is mutually beneficial for both the Philippines and the U.S., because it also provides a significant new export opportunity for the U.S. textile industry. This opportunity could account for hundreds of millions in new U.S. textile exports in a short period of time that would translate into thousands of additional jobs for the U.S. textile sector.

The SAVE Act as an interim measure will serve as a bridge, as the Philippines prepares itself for eventual membership in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The Secretary cited that for a treaty ally such as the Philippines, the SAVE Act is relatively a small preferential trade program compared to existing similar programs for other countries that are substantially more generous. Various programs provide for more liberal market access for a wide range of countries in the Caribbean, the Andean region, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East for countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Mauritius.

The SAVE Act would be a major step that would immediately contribute positively to Philippine-U.S. bilateral trade and  over-all relationship, in support of and in line with the strategic security alliance between the two countries. Secretary del Rosario told Members of Congress that by helping strengthen the Philippine economy through such arrangements as the SAVE Act, the U.S. is also making itself stronger.

Secretary del Rosario met with Senator Daniel K. Inouye, the principal sponsor of SAVE Act in the Senate, who expressed steadfast and active support for the bill. The other Members of Congress met by the Secretary gave assurances that they understand both the strategic and economic importance of the bill, and that they will have to examine it more closely.

The Secretary also had productive meetings with Senators Max Baucus (R-MT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Rockefeller (D-WV), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Robert Menendez (R-NJ), Debbie Ann Stabenow (R-MI), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

In the House, the Secretary pursued discussions with Representatives Hal Rogers (R-KY), Wally Herger (R-CA), SAVE Act principal sponsor Jim McDemott (D-WA), Ed Royce (R-CA), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Geoff Davis (R-KY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Steve Austria (R-OH), and Kilili Sablan (D-MP).

Secretary del Rosario and Ambassador Cuisia were accompanied at the meetings by Minister for Legislative Affairs Ariel Rodelas Penaranda and Commercial Counselor Maria Roseni M. Alvero.