In the recent Philippine Investment Forum in New York which Secretary Ramon Lopez attended, the Trade Secretary met with members of the American Apparel and Footwear Association. The Secretary came home with some good news.

Trade & Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez announced that American apparel, footwear and even BPO companies are very keen on expanding in the Philippines. This is due to the big domestic and expanding middle class in the country.

In the recent Philippine Investment Forum held in New York, 85 American business executives came to attend and explore the Philippine market. Specifically, members of the American Apparel and Footwear Association met with the Trade Secretary and discussed potential relocation and expansion of their manufacturing facilities in the Philippines.

Apart from the apparel and footwear companies, Secretary Lopez encouraged other member companies like Under Armour Inc., Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren Corporation, Coach and the Ascena Retail Group which makes Ann Taylor and Loft among others to explore the Philippines as well. Sec. Lopez encouraged them to take advantage of the extended duty-free treatment to imports of travel goods under the Generalized System of Preferences Program.

The US-Generalized System of Preferences is among our rallying points in enticing direct foreign investments. The Dept. of Trade & Industry is lobbying for the inclusion of footwear in this program. In the meantime, Shearwater, through its CFO and COO Tom Kendrot also met with Sec. Lopez to confirm Shearwater's expansion. The company is set to open its third operation center in the country in 2018 in Iloilo City. The company Shearwater is a US clinical solutions provider that has clinical process outsourcing operations now in Taguig City and Cebu City. The company's expansion is seen to bring in US $7 million worth of investments and enhance domestic employment by another 3,000 jobs.

With the recent investment forum in New York, Trade Secretary Lopez said that the government "continues to strengthen business collaboration with investors and multinational corporations based in the United States."

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