The furniture export industry has adopted a new strategy of aggressively pursuing the local market for quality furniture, instead of waiting for global demand to recover.
This was announced by Nicolaas K. de Lange, national president of the chamber of Furniture Industry of the Philippines in an exclusive interview with PHILEXPORT News and Features.
De Lange said that his chamber has learned that the Philippines has been importing more furniture than what was being exported. Imports, he said, were valued at US $300 million a year, which was much higher than the industry’s revenues from exports.
We intend to a share of that market, de Lange said.
Official records had shown that furniture and wood-based furnishings had hauled in an average of $1 billion a year but the bulk of exports were not furniture sets but flyboard and plywood manufactured in the Philippines.
Since the financial meltdown in the west in 2008, furniture exports from the Philippines have declined and is yet to recover.
Demand for middle and high end furniture products from the Philippines to Europe and the United States has turned stale. De Lange said this is bound to linger in the foreseeable future as the credit crunch in the EU and recession in the US continue to linger.
De Lange revealed that the biggest local demand for furniture and furnishings in the country is that by developers of skyscrapers mostly in Metro Manila.
“They have not been making orders from us. We are now going out of our way to entice them to buy their needs from us,” de Lange said.
Philippine furniture shipped abroad have been known to be the best designed in Asia and were known to be hitting the high end markets of Europe and the United States. Demand from those destinations have gone stale since the financial crisis hit those economies.
This reputation may have discouraged local developers of high rise buildings and resorts from making orders with local furniture exporters.
In addition to a change in strategy to tap into the local market, the furniture group had earlier asked the government to liberalize the importation of wood products and that of the purchase of plantation wood from local growers.
These were the tacks de Lange said were necessary for their industry to survive the hard times.
— Abe P. Belena, PHILEXPORT News and Features