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General Director ATP (Textile and Clothing Association of Portugal)
The textile and clothing companies normally do not use the stock exchange market to finance their activities
Paulo Vaz discusses about the present and future of Portuguese textile industry with fibre2fashion correspondent Mary Christine Joy.
ATP (Textile and Clothing Association of Portugal) is a renowned employer association consisting of around 512 companies and Euro 3,000 million turnover. It was formed by the merger of APIM (Portuguese Association of Industries and Loop Tailoring) and APT (Portuguese Association of Textile and Clothing).
Paulo Vaz, besides being the General-Director of ATP, is also the Vice-President of Selectiva Moda Association (organization of international fairs and President of CENIT (Textile Intelligence Studies Centre). He is also auditor of the National Defence.
As the General Director of ATP, can you give us a brief about the role of ATP in uplifting of Portuguese textile companies and your role in particular in the association?
ATP is the most important Association representing in Portugal the whole textile and clothing cluster, including fashion designers and fashion distribution besides the entire industry from spinners, weavers, home textiles, technical textiles, knitwear and confection in general. ATP aggregates around 500 companies which are the most important in the cluster. Our role as Association is to defend the sector and the companies' interest and present their demands to the political institutions, both in Portugal and in Europe. ATP also develops numerous services dedicated to their members in terms of intelligence, consultancy, technical assistance, technical publishing and organization of internationalization programs, which allow a collective presence of the companies in 65 textile and fashion fairs worldwide boosting the exports activity.
Portuguese textile industry recorded a growth in its textile exports in 2013. Do you suppose that Portuguese textile industry is flourishing in comparison to other industries in the country? Please explain your answer.
Due to the economic and financial crisis that Portugal has been suffering since 2011 companies had to change their priorities and invested a lot more in export markets. Not only the Textile and Clothing sector, but also other Portuguese traditional industries as Footwear, Furniture, Automotive, Agro-food, etc. in general. These already had an important external quota to increase sales abroad to compensate the internal market recession. We may say that in general all Portuguese activities that usually export had a very good year in 2013 including Textile and Clothing sector.
Your statistics say that the Portuguese textile industry was a major source of employment in the past (in the 90s). But the sector employs less number of people now. Why has the textile industry failed to create employment opportunities in the country?
The point for Portuguese Textile and Clothing Industry is not to create jobs. The point is to create added value and increase productivity. This is much more important for us to increase our turnover and our exports rather than to focus on employment. We're climbing very fast in the value chain and we're obtaining much more productivity from our human capital. The aim is to have more qualified jobs than more jobs in general.
Europe is your main export destination, isn't it? Why do you think is Portuguese textile favorable to the European market?
Europe is our main export destination for obvious reasons: geographical proximity and cultural proximity. We are a European country fully committed with the European project, our major markets in Europe are at 3 hours flight distance and 28 hours truck drive maximum. We can speak several languages and we are very flexible and adaptable. Those are enormous advantages when we talk about added value industries that must be distinguished by service and not by price. Portugal can't compete based on price but we still have a lot of advantages if we consider other points such us high quality, design, technical innovation, geographical and cultural proximity to the main markets and a lot of service to create value.