'Pacman' Pacquiao & Fil-Am Protectionism Part 2

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 5/09/2011 12:01:00 AM
Gotta love these alliterative titles. Anyway, my consciousness of legislative machinations was obviously jogged by the fighting congressman Manny Pacquiao eking out a comfortable margin of victory over Shane Mosley. The continuing popularity of the Filipino sportsman Pacquiao in the US--he claims to have secured a senatorial victory for Harry Reid in Nevada where his sporting fame has been cemented--has been covered extensively. While we await the release of the final tally, I expect Indians to have surpassed Filipinos as the second largest Asian minority in the States during the 2010 census. Still, the latter remain a continuing link between former colonizer and colonized. Leftists would of course say this exploitative relationship has never gone away. Perhaps what follows is in this vein.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the "Save Our Industries Act" which, to my eyes, is a blatantly protectionist measure by the Philippines and United States against China. Key provisions of this bill include the following:
  • Under the 809 component of the program, if the eligible garment's essential character is comprised of U.S.-made fabrics and yarns and is cut and wholly assembled in the Philippines, then it would qualify to re-enter the United States free of duty.
  • In addition, if the eligible garment's essential character is comprised of U.S. spun yarn or extruded yarn formed in the Philippines, it may re-enter the United States at 50 percent of the most favored nation (MFN) duty.
This proposed tag team protectionism involving an industry that has long since seen its better days in the US would not have gathered much attention at all--indeed, I may be the only paying attention to it--had it not been for its high profile proponent, Congressman Pacquiao. Having a rags-to-riches story of his own, he declares that his biggest fight is against poverty. So, aside from training and contesting matches in Las Vegas, his stateside visits have begun to include, well, lobbying for the aforementioned "Save Our Industries Act." For the first time ever comes trade commentary from, er, Sports Illustrated [!]:
His most recent issue involves the United States. Pacquiao is a strong advocate for the Save Our Industries Act, a bill that was introduced to the U.S. Congress in 2009 that would permit Filipino apparel makers to import and use American textiles in the manufacture of certain garments, which they could then export to the U.S. tax free. The passage of this bill would allow the Philippines to compete with China and create more than 200,000 new jobs.

Pacquiao's status in boxing has opened doors for him to lobby for the bill. In February, he met with President Barack Obama. Later, he had a 30-minute meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and recruited him to support his efforts. "He went right at Harry," said Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, who was in the meeting. "He zoned in on that issue. He was a real politician. When it was over, Harry told him, 'I'm on it.' "
Given that Sports Illustrated is better known for lowbrow swimsuit issues that have little to do with sports, it's no surprise their commentary doesn't dwell on matters alike deadweight losses or anything of the sort. As mentioned in the earlier post, it appears very hard to reconcile this bill with both countries international trade commitments. Might it squeak by under the Generalized System of Preferences? Perhaps. Then again, it may be a familiar case of pre-match bluster boxers are known for.

Moreover, alike Pacquiao vs. Mosley perhaps, this trade match-fixing exercise is undergoing quarrels between the would-be conspirators as the US wishes to include more exceptions to duty-free imports. That is, it would like to not include certain finished goods it still makes in appreciable quantities. From Fiber2Fashion:
The US has directed Philippines to omit some vital fabric and garment segments, from the proposed list of Philippine-made garments produced from American yarn and fabrics, for which Philippines is seeking duty free access to the US, under the proposed ‘Save Our Industries Act’ bill.

Philippines Trade and Industry Undersecretary Cristino L. Panlilio stated that, he actually doubts if they have an option to not consent to the same. However, he said that, there is a need to fetch a solution to some of the controversial issues that exist between the two countries.

The first issue, he said, is the US wants to exclude ‘poplin’ cloth from the list, as American firms are already producing sizeable volume of apparels from this cloth [hence less need for export processing]. Poplin, which is also known as tabinet, is a sort of medium to heavy weight durable fabric, which is normally produced from cotton or a blend of cotton and polyester. Until last century poplin mainly was used to prepare cotton, silk or heavy weight woollen clothes for winters.

The second issue, he stated relates to undergarments.

It may be recollected that, the ‘Save Act’ bill is an initiative by Philippine, which seeks to revive the local garment and textile industries of both the countries - the Philippines and the US. Philippines is ready to once again put up the bill for approval, during June this year, after making necessary changes to make it more agreeable to the US legislators.
Shadowboxing and trade: who would've thunk it?