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No sign of rapid recovery for textile industry in 2010 - STF

01
May '10
The global economic crisis hit the Swiss textile and clothing industry hard in 2009. The value added for the industry as a whole was CHF 1.29 billion, down 4.1% on the previous year. Exports fell by 18.5%; imports, by 10.7%. Despite a rise in book orders in the 3rd quarter of last year no rapid recovery is expected for 2010.

Max R. Hungerbühler, Chairman of the Swiss Textile Federation, sees no sign of a rapid recovery for the Swiss textile and clothing industry in 2010. While export figures for the 4th quarter of 2009 raise the hope of at least a stabilisation of the situation, albeit at a low level, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel has yet to be sighted.

Sharp decline in exports and imports
The value added for the industry as a whole in 2009 was CHF 1.29 billion, down 4.1% compared with the previous year. The value added of the textile industry decreased by 4.5%, to CHF 980 million; that of the clothing industry fell 2.8%, to CHF 310 million. Overall the industry's exports declined by 18.5%. The textile industry exported to the value of CHF 1.61 billion, down 21.6%, while exports by the clothing industry amounted to CHF 1.80 billion, a decline of 15.5%. Imports continued to diminish. While the year-on-year decrease in 2008 had been “only” 0.6%, last year it totalled -10.7%.

China remained Switzerland's third largest clothing supplier after Germany and Italy, despite a 3% decline. The capacity utilisation rate for the industry as a whole dropped to 73%, also entailing a 13.2% reduction in the number of employees. At the end of 2009 a total of 14,500 people were still employed by the industry.

GDP growth of the euro zone raises hopes
While consumer behaviour on the domestic market is expected to remain relatively low-key in 2010, the moderately positive GDP growth of the euro zone raises hopes of a slow but gradual stabilisation. However the current weakness of the euro and the associated strengthening of the Swiss franc are not beneficial to the export business. It is also hoped that exports to the Asian growth markets, which have risen continually over the past five years, remain on course.

Current political problem areas
Max R. Hungerbühler considers that one of the main tasks of the Swiss Textile Federation (STF) is to formulate clearly its misgivings, concerns and needs. The Swiss Textile Federation feels that national and international framework conditions must have as little impact as possible on the industry's competitiveness. Any rise in incidental wage costs are out of the question for the time being. Demands by trade unions resulting in higher labour costs would have fatal repercussions on not just the textile and clothing industry, but on the whole of Switzerland as a place of work.

The Swiss Textile Federation is also calling for a liberal Swiss foreign economic policy and the steady expansion of the foreign trade network. The expansion of a fully fledged EUROMED zone and the introduction of contemporary rules of origin are also required.


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