2021 should be a turning point for the European textile and apparel industry. The European Apparel and Textile Confederation (Euratex), Brussels/Belgium, is concerned that the corona crisis may soon be followed by disruptions in the global supply chains, affecting the competitiveness of the textile and apparel industry.
Economic data up to December 2020 reflect a strong contraction in demand and production of textile and clothing items, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the full year 2020, the EU turnover fell by 9.3% in textiles and by 17.7% in clothing, compared with 2019. The crisis was particularly felt in the middle of the year (with production losses over 50%). Towards the last quarter of 2020, business activity recovered in the textile industry (+1.6% as compared with the previous quarter), while it further deteriorated in the clothing sector (-6.8%), as a result of the decline in consumption expenditure and the slowdown in non-essential activities.
Looking forward, the EU Business Confidence indicator of March 2021 gained momentum, with a confirmed upward trend in the textile industry (+3.8 points), and a modest recovery in the clothing industry (+1.6 points). Also, the employment expectations indicator saw a robust increase.
However, raising prices of raw materials (textile fibers, dyestuffs, etc.) and transport costs, negative impact of CO2 prices and political turmoil in some important sourcing countries (China, Myanmar) create uncertainty, adding to the challenges of the corona pandemic.
On that basis, 2021 will be a critical year for the competitiveness of the European T&C industry. A forward-looking EU textiles strategy is essential in this context. The EU textiles strategy is expected for the 3rd quarter of 2021. While it is expected to put a strong focus on sustainability and circularity, Euratex insists the strategy should take a broader perspective and ensure long term competitiveness of this essential pillar of the European economy.