The Members of European Parliament (MEPs) have voted in favour of making 'made-in’ labelling mandatory for non-food products sold on the single market. Do you think this would benefit the textile and apparel industry in any way?
A mandatory indication of country of origin is favoured by the EU T&C industry provided that this is 'bearable’ for companies in terms of compliance cost and red-tape in the overall context of the Consumer Product Safety Regulation. If member states finally adopt this regulation it will help to harmonize existing marking rules within the internal market, increase transparency for consumers. But at the same time depending on company’s business model, indication of country of origin could be seen as unnecessary burden as the new Regulation will provide already enough information to facilitate the task of market surveillance authorities in tracing the product to safeguard end-consumer. Overall, I believe it is an important step forward for our industry to have a Regulation that will bring the EU labelling more in line with existing legislation across the world.
The trade barriers between the European Union and Guatemala had been lifted on December 1, 2013. Has this helped the textile and apparel sector in any way?
Guatemala was the last Central American country to ratify the Association Agreement with the EU and we are happy that trade barriers with these countries are reduced. It is too early to register significant move forward, however figures show that Guatemala imports from the EU have slightly increased in the first quarter 2014. This example shows that EU trade policies are crucial for the T&C industry. We were able to assess it lately with the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea that entered into force in 2011. Trade facilitation with targeted partners helps our companies, in particular SME’s, to export and find opportunities in new fast growing markets.
How you see the growth in small textile studios and fashion workshops based in Europe?
The characteristic of the European T&C industry is the small size of its 173.000 companies. With 10 employees on average, the EU industry is used to work with regional, national or even European very flexible and complementary networks. The trends of production re-shoring to better serve a growingly fragmented EU market will be beneficial for those networks. However, the scale of the increase might not be sufficiently big due to the long lasting 'credit-crunch’ impacting small companies especially active in industries like T&C.
Sustainability in the industry is a major issue these days. What do you see as the key components of sustainability for textiles in fashion?
From the point of view of an industrialist that wants to show how sustainable is its production, it is difficult to bear the cost of so diverse and competing standards existing in the sector. Hence EURATEX sees an ever increasing need to define sustainability in the EU T&C sector for a long-term vision in which economic growth, social cohesion and environmental protection are mutually supporting. We suggest the approach should focus on long term goals like:
• Rapid shift to a low-carbon and low input economy based on energy and resource-efficiency and sustainable transport.
• Environmental efforts for the protection of water and natural resources
• Promoting social inclusion
• Strengthening of the international dimension of sustainable development in an effort to achieve a level playing field.
• Promoting re-use, recycling, life cycle and eco-design thinking
• Encouraging sustainable production
Please tell us something about EURATEX international textile and clothing conference held on 5 June 2014 in Brussels. What would be agenda of this conference?
The international T&C conference 'Free Trade and International Agreements’ hosted by Euratex was a success because it started an open debate on FTAs and international agreements’ influence on the world markets of the T&C sector. The conference brought together about 140 participants and 15 prominent speakers from different countries across the world to discuss the current challenges and opportunities for the national industries and international brands. The speakers from Turkish, Korean, African, Japanese, Indian, Brazilian and Taiwan textile and apparel industries contributed to an unprecedented discussion on the future of the T&C sector.
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