MILAN — The Italian textile and fashion industry is expected to grow, but at a moderate pace.

According to projections released by industry association Sistema Moda Italia’s president Marino Vago on Wednesday, revenues for the sector are expected to gain only 1.5 percent in the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2018. In particular, the textile area is forecast to grow 1.1 percent and the fashion division 1.9 percent.

In the January-June 2019 period, export will still be the industry’s driving force but will grow at a slower pace, gaining 1.8 percent compared to the 2.6 percent increase registered in the same period in 2018. Overall, the trade balance is expected to be up 2.5 percent.

Among the elements influencing the figures, Vago mentioned the European elections and a potential recession of the area’s economy, Brexit and the commercial situation between the U.S. and China.

The executive urged to keep a cautious approach given these challenges, which might interrupt the positive momentum the industry experienced in 2018.

Preliminary 2018 data released by the association showed that last year, sales were up 2.1 percent to 55.2 billion euros, with textile and fashion companies increasing at a different pace and reporting a 1.4 and 2.8 percent growth, respectively.

Exports grew 2.8 percent, accounting for 31.5 billion euros of the total sales. Overall, sales in European countries were flat, with best performances coming from France and the U.K., which reported a 1.6 percent and 6.3 percent increase, respectively. Exports toward Germany were flat, while the ones toward Spain decreased 2.2 percent.

Extra-EU destinations climbed 6.4 percent, propelled by the performances of China, Switzerland and the U.S., which registered a 23.6 percent, 14.8 percent and 3.1 percent growth, respectively.

Import also increased 3.3 percent, totaling 21.7 billion euros in 2018.

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