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Italy's textile industry loses its sheen

Italy's textile trade has been pushed behind by rivals in recent years: high-tech, high-end competitors in countries such as Germany and the United States, and low-end producers in places like China, Bangladesh and Turkey. A central driver of the country's economic growth in the 20th century, Italian fabric manufacturers have been struggling to remain in business since globalization opened the sector to Asian competition at the end of the 1990s.


Though Italy’s fabric industry has improved productivity in recent years, it has not been able to compete on wages. It has led to fewer jobs, lower living standards and abandoned factories. In last two decades, the industry that transformed cotton into thread, or thread into curtains, sheets, towels and clothes has no jobs in hand.


Italy is the world's third-largest exporter of clothes and fabrics. But its market share has decreased to just 4 percent since 2000, while employment in textiles has fallen every year for 25 years. It is now around 60 per cent of what it was in 1990, down 370,000 jobs, according to employers' association Confindustria.