Made in Europe: Driven by businesses or policies?
Opinion article for EurActiv by Serge Piolat, EURATEX President
The European Commission’s call to revive the European industry in order to boost economic growth and competitiveness was affirmed by the Junker Commission’s ten priorities as ‘strengthened industrial base’. Taking an example of textiles and fashion, is the EU a good place for manufacturing?
Like many other European manufacturing sectors, the production of textile and clothing goods was significantly offshored to the low-cost countries in the 1990s. At the same time, many entrepreneurs took effective measures to keep their production in Europe and remain competitive in the rigorous global market. Innovation became a new business model. The companies opted for advanced know-how in production processes and variety of goods.
The sector managed to restructure and diversify its activities and nowadays, textile and clothing industry in Europe accounts for 174,000 companies, predominantly SMEs, and employs 1.66 million workers. Smart textiles made in Europe used in advanced construction, organ transplants and aerospace have become a reference across the world.
More trade for more jobs
Currently, 28% of the European textile and fashion goods are exported out of the EU. Possibility to access new markets is an important incentive for companies to increase their production and thus, to create more jobs.
The free trade agreements (FTA) are intended to facilitate access of the European companies to the emerging and developed markets. A good example for our sector is the FTA concluded between the EU and Korea in 2011, thanks to which our companies increased their exports to Korea by more than 30%.
We are very positive about negotiations of the ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US. It can open a market of more than 300 million consumers keen on European fashion. Not to mention remarkable opportunities for our technical textiles for protective equipment, industrial and medical uses.
To achieve desired results, Europe should put all its efforts not only in negotiating agreements, but also in encouraging the companies, including SMEs, to export and become more international.
Read the full article at EurActiv