More than 140 participants from the industry, research, European institutions and international organisations came together in Brussels recently to join the International Textile and Clothing Conference on ‘Free Trade and International Agreements’.
The 15 distinguished speakers from different countries and institutions made a valuable contribution to the discussion on the way textile and clothing markets have changed in the last 20 years and on the impact of the numerous free trade agreements signed across the world. Trends confirm that European companies have managed to maintain their overall position by changing their competitiveness paradigm and by favoring a competitiveness based on products with high added-value and non-price competitiveness content. Nevertheless, to maintain such a model, it is also important to strengthen the European industrial policy that should also benefit textile and clothing.
The EU’s free trade agreements currently in place absorb more than 44 per cent of the 42.2 billion of textile and clothing products exported world-wide. Globally the industry prefers multilateral trade liberalization since it is the best way to reduce costs of doing business but the second-best choice remains the free trade agreements provided they do not create a new labyrinth of rules. India felt the free trade agreement with the EU was a chance to improve the competitiveness of the Indian industry.