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The textile-apparel industry is strong, but it needs stability

Sustainability and traceability, promotion and internationalisation, innovation, Europe and education: these are the five points for the future that have been detected by Sistema Moda Italia. In the meantime, the Association outlines the (positive) financial year of 2018 and it draws the situation (with some uncertainties) of 2019.

The textile and apparel industry closed 2018 with an increase by +2,1% on a yearly basis. The turnover reaches 55.3 billion, registering + 1.13 billion compared to 2017. Export related to 2018 marks + 2.8%, with a value of about 31.5 billion. Import grows by 3.3% and reaches 21.7 billion, with a positive trade balance accounting for about 9.8 billion (+117 billion on 2017).

The intra-EU sales are almost stable (- 0,1%), while the extra-EU ones continue to grow: +6.4% USA, (+ 3.1%), China (+23.6%) and Hong Kong (+23.6%) represent the markets where the increase has been higher.

During 2018, consumption has been kept steady nationally, while employment and companies mark a light reduction.

The first data of 2019 still show positive records: + 1.5% during the first quarter, but slowing down compared to the same period of 2018, when it had been marked +2.5%. The growth, divided into two macro-branches, should account for + 1,1% for textile industry and + 1,5% for the apparel one.

Export will continue on the positive trend, despite slowing down: +1.8% on the same period of 2018. The trade balance is expected to improve by + 2.5%.

SMI has also detected some uncertainties about 2019, which could affect the trend of the industry; European elections, the Brexit, Europe stagnation, the USA slowdown and the risk of tariff escalation. As far as Italy is concerned, the major concerns concern the difficulty in finding suitable professional figures: in the five years to come 47 thousand people will exit from the sector, while there are just 10 thousand people following training paths. The problem has been further exacerbated from quota 100 (early pension), that will speed up the retirement of many expert professionals.

Just for this reason, SMI has intensified – and it still will intensify – its commitment within training, in order to really favour matching between job supply and demand. However, the industry needs a a more stable political and economic context, allowing a long-term planning, starting from the quality and amount of resources that both ITA-Agency and the Ministry for Economic Development will make available for internationalisation for 2019.

Biella, 24 april 2019

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