By  on April 12, 2005

ATHENS — Greece’s apparel and textile manufacturers need to focus on capital-intensive technologies, better design and branded products, rather than trying to compete on price for commodity goods in the post-quota era, said economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis.

“The idea is to see that the transition of the sector is as smooth as possible,” Alogoskoufis said during an interview in his Athens office.

Greek apparel and textile manufacturers annually export goods valued at about $2.65 billion, with the European Union its main market. Greece is among the smaller suppliers to the U.S. Last year, American importers bought $29.4 million worth of Greek fabrics and garments. January shipments were up 92.4 percent to $3.5 million.

Ulysses Kyriakopoulos, chairman of the Federation of Greek Industries, said in an interview in Athens, “There’s no way we can remain competitive in low-value-added products, but there are still areas where Europe can stay in the business in selective small niches, like high-end, fashion-oriented, quality products.”

Greek firms are also exploring outsourcing and some have moved their factories to Balkan countries such as Bulgaria and Romania, where labor costs are lower, said Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a member of the Greek Parliament’s committees on Trade and European Affairs, during an interview at his office. He acknowledged this is not going to solve the “cost problem” posed by  China, Bangladesh and other competitors.

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