MANILA SAYS TEXTILE EXPORTS JUMP BY 34 PERCENT US REMAINS LARGEST MARKET

MANILA SAYS TEXTILE EXPORTS JUMP BY 34 PERCENT US REMAINS LARGEST MARKET

Exports of textiles and garments from the Philippines grew 34 percent in the first quarter, to US$435 million, the government said. That compares with US$324 million in the corresponding 1989 period.

Figures released over the weekend by the Garment and Textile Industry Board show that the United States remains easily the largest market. It bought US$268 million worth, an increase of 40 percent on the 1989 first quarter.The European Community was next at US$90 million, up 38 percent, the Manila-based agency said.

Quota countries accounted for 87 percent of all overseas sales. Their purchases of US$375 million represented an increase of 37 percent on the previous year.

Non-quota countries imported a total of US$59 million worth of items, up 16 percent, the board said. Japan was the largest non-quota customer at US$15 million, an increase of 22 percent on the year-earlier period.

The strong performance should ease concern among government officials and many business executives. They were afraid that last December's abortive but serious attempt to topple the government might dent overseas sales.

Shortly after the attempted coup by rebellious troops, some foreign buyers refused to go to Manila for order conferences. Meetings were held instead in Hong Kong and other regional locations, saving some big orders but adding to the costs of Philippine companies.

Of more concern now is a regimen of power cuts ordered by the government for the Metro Manila area, the hub of the country's business. Many companies will be required to work a four-day week to conserve power.

Partly as a result of the government's drive to revitalize industry, demand for electricity is racing well ahead of supply. The onset of a tropical summer always makes the problem worse.

Textiles and garments are an important part of President Corazon Aquino's industrial push. Exports last year amounted to US$1.6 billion, up 23 percent

from the US$1.3 billion shipped in 1988, government statistics show.

Those overseas sales accounted for 18 percent of the country's total exports in 1989, second only to electronics among manufactured goods. Both industries have heavy investment from the United States and other foreign countries, helping to mop up unemployment as well as generating much-needed foreign exchange.