Textile sector is growing stronger

The Greek and European textile industries will remain on a positive course up to 2020, during a period when the attraction of the cheap Chinese products will daily wane. Dr Nikos Nikolaidis, general director of KYKE Hellas SA, argues, however, that for Greek companies to make the most of the reversal of the previous years’ decline, they must save energy, modernize machinery and restructure production. This will enable them to make a reduction of up to 25 percent in their expenses, thereby raising their competitiveness. Greece can withstand the competition, he says, as it has significant comparative advantages such as a common border with the so-called «little China» (i.e. Bulgaria, where finishing can be completed), high-quality cotton and the existence of a complete textile chain (raw material production, processing, sewing, marketing). «No other low-cost country has the advantage of a complete chain of production. At the same time Greece responds very rapidly to new fashion trends, while China does not,» notes Nikolaidis. Chinese products are continuing to lose market shares as their quality is often inadequate, the cost of labor is increasing in China, export subsidies are being reduced and environmental restrictions are putting a brake on production without controls. The sector, continues Nikolaidis, rebounded in Greece last year (7.3 percent rise in turnover) and if local companies invest in quality and establishing brand names, the future appears very promising. Nikolaidis cites the results of a survey titled «EU High Level Group of Textiles,» showing that the storming of the European market by cheap imported products was smaller than anticipated, while European exports remained steady despite the strengthening of the euro (exports to China grew by 16 percent). Data from European countries confirm this trend. In 2006, turnover in Italy grew by 1.9 percent year-on-year, in France 1 percent and in Germany 0.8 percent, while exports grew by 3.7 percent, 2 percent and 3.1 percent respectively. Within one year in EU-25 there were investments amounting to -5.07 billion and exports of -36.5 billion. However, imports reached -73 billion, maintaining the overall deficit.