Some 230 suppliers from 20 countries, all of them carefully selected producers and designers of sophisticated collections for upholstery and window & wall covering, will exhibit their products at the trade fair Meet only Original Designs (MoOD) in Brussels in September. All of these companies are export-oriented (otherwise they would not participate in MoOD). Here are some issues they are discussing with staff and sector associations because these could have an unwanted impact on their export activities, reports Jozef De Coster.


The Brexit vote of June 23 was an unpleasant surprise for interior fabrics exporters from Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, because UK is traditionally an important market for them. Though it's presently uncertain what will be the final impact of the Brexit on future textile trade between the UK and EU, there's no doubt that the impact will be mainly unfavourable.


2.jpgAlso, the US is an important export market. European exporters of interior fabrics are disappointed about the slow pace of TTIP negotiations (Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership). They are afraid that a series of potential and real problems in the field of labelling requirements for textile products, regulation of flammability and harmonisation of standards could remain untreated for a long time.


Though it may seem unlikely that real estate tycoon Donald Trump will grasp the American presidency in November 2016 (however, he was also an unlikely Republican candidate), exporters as well as importers worry about the protectionist spirit Trump is embodying.


Rising protectionism

During a speech at Liberty University in January 2016, Trump boasted, "We're going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of other countries." However, Apple's CEO Tim Cook already learned the hard way that it's not easy to find a good alternative for the super-efficient Chinese assembly industry. In 2012, Apple invested some $100 million in American production capabilities, but without much result.


The increasing lack of domestic labour skills and specialised suppliers makes it difficult to re-shore mass production to the US. Just like Apple, textile and clothing manufacturers in the US and in other expensive countries like EU, Japan, Canada, made the same conclusion: do not drop China, the reigning manufacturer of the world.