A warm welcome to Face2 Face talk, Mr Folias! Some past reports describe textiles to be the largest sector in your country Greece. How true is this in present times in the view of country’s growing economy and overall growth?
It is apparent that during the last years, we are witnessing a gradual shift of geo-political attention towards South-Eastern Europe (S.E. Europe). Today, our region is considered to be the most attractive investment target within the continent having a total population of about 110 million, and the fastest growth rate (about 6%) among the other European regions. Greece, specifically, carries considerable advantages including a stable political and monetary investment environment, advanced infrastructure in textiles, telecommunication, transportation, as well as easy access to R& D resources. Textiles and clothing definitely enjoys importance in the economic growth of our country.
Now, with the fact that the Globalization is here to stay, how do you think would it affect Greek textiles and clothing, and how is Greece prepared to adapt the competitive edge?
We adopted an agreement with China on textile to the EU, so that until 2008, these shall not exceed an increase of 10-12.5% annually, for 10 product categories, mostly clothing. This agreement is surely preferable and constitutes a positive evolution because it obviates a slide in protectionism and offers a substantial satisfactory period of time for European and Greek producers to adjust to the new facts set by China in international competition.
As a consequence, Greek textile businesses in the next 2.5 years should take advantage of the relative protection of this sector in order to proceed to a substantial progress leap regarding their technological modernization, innovative planning renewal, quality upgrading and their promotion and expansion in exports. In this effort, they will have remarkable support in their investment incentive policies, measures for boosting small and medium-sized enterprises and, in specific, actions for sector strengthening, which have already been announced, such as: (a) a plan by the General Secretariat for Industry for the reinforcement of textiles, clothing, footwear and leatherwear sectors regarding quality, promotion and directing businesses towards new activities and (b) a study that records EU support programs for SMEs.
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