Argentina’s textile and apparel industry is facing a flat 2015 amid falling consumption, exports and profits, but its new leader remains confident this month’s presidential elections will help change its course.
“There are good growth expectations for the next few years,” said Claudio Drescher, who was appointed president of top trade lobby CIAI on Sept. 30. “All candidates have strong industry growth plans; our proposals have been well received.”
The $8 billion sector is asking the incoming government to help bankroll $600 million to streamline manufacturing to produce more fashionable apparel.
Whoever the new president is — polls have Daniel Scioli leading — the industry believes he should also pursue policies to develop 20 cash-strapped yet promising Argentine labels.
“We can develop brands that can successfully compete regionally and internationally,” Drescher said. “We need a development bank to help them, to team with the private sector” to collateralize loans.
“Our workers charge $1,200 a month, five times Asia,” he added. “We need much higher quality to compensate, better equipment, machinery and technology.”
Import bureaucracy should also be scrapped and trade liberalized to enable mills to obtain crucial inputs and tap export markets more effectively, the industry believes.
Views that Buenos Aires’ protectionist agenda has shut imports are “totally exaggerated,” Drescher added.
“Argentines have the complaint syndrome,” he said. “The system works, just not as quickly as it should.”
For now, growth will be flat or marginally higher against last year’s 3.5 percent gain to $8 billion. Exports will also decline from $800 million in 2014 amid main partner Brazil’s economic woes, Drescher concluded.