The European Union measures taken this year to contain the flow of Chinese imports of textile products have made a difference, according to data compiled by the Hellenic Fashion Industry Association (SEPEE). Although in the year’s first quarter, before the measures’ enforcement, Greek exports had declined by 25 percent, in the first half of the year this had dropped to 15 percent and by the end of the year the overall figure for 2005 is estimated at 7 percent year on year. The rate of increase of imports is also estimated to close at 7 percent. Speaking at an event organized this week by SEPEE, its vice president, Vassilis Masselos, argued that the EU measures have now brought purchasers back to their previous partners or made them seek alternative suppliers. But he stressed that the sector has to deal with the deep change in consumer behavior because globalization has not only affected the geographical distribution of apparel production. The constant decline in prices influences the choices of consumers, he said, adding that «we cannot beat the Chinese [entrepreneur] with our hard labor but with our brain.» Support funding At the same event, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas pledged to promote a program providing 145 million euros in aid of textile and apparel industries. Approval by the European Union is expected this week. The scheme aims at bolstering the sector’s outward-looking drive, upgrading the quality of products, modernizing the organization structure of the sector and supporting investment activity, Sioufas explained. He also announced that from 2006 Fashion Week will take place twice a year. Apart from creations by Greek designers it will exhibit products from the local clothing and shoe industry.