April – June 2007
Experts plot strategic plan to raise competitiveness of RP's furniture
THE DOMESTIC FURNITURE INDUSTRY accounts for a very trim 0.8 percent of total Philippine exports, which is roughly 1/5 of 1 percent of total world furniture output.
But Philippine furniture is regarded as among the worlds best, earning a reputation as the “Milan of Asia” for elegance and craftsmanship. It ranks eight among furniture exporters to the United States.
Ninety-eight percent of an estimated 15,000 mostly small and medium scale local furniture companies form the industry and provide direct employment to 481,500 workers and 300,000 sub-contractors. Only two percent of these establishments are considered large companies. SMEs dominate the 2,500 furniture exporters.
The three main centers of furniture production in the country are Metro Manila, Pampanga, and Cebu, while Southern Tagalog, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro City, and Butuan City are catching up.
The competitiveness of RP’s furniture and handicraft industry hinges on the improvement of production process and tools used. Along with the development of affordable processing machines, a government study called Industry Strategic Plan for Furniture and Handicraft showed.
Industry experts put the plan together with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development in cooperation with the National Academy of Science and Technology.
The plan recommends that a collective-based enterprise should be formed among furniture manufacturers to optimize handicraft productivity through common service facilities.
These will be complemented by S&T training program for industry workers and development of furniture designers’ module to raise their capability in design and skill.
Marketing strategy will also be developed with the use of information and communication technology for wider reach and supported by an online “intelligent decision support system”.
The plan’s promotional includes establishment of showrooms/souvenir shops in key cities, and participation in international trade shows among others.
The industry’s sustainability according to the plan will be backed by information and support system for material sourcing to make such activity in the production chain fast and more efficient.
These initiatives are also tied to a system or environment of continuous generation and improvement of technologies to foster the competitiveness of the furniture industry. STP