By Claudia Polanco Yermanos |
América Writing (EFE).- The Latin American textile and clothing industry continues to boom and, after recovering 3.5% of its market in 2021 after the pandemic, optimistically faces growth of between 2% and 4 % this year, despite the economic slowdown and inflation.
In general terms, Latin America represents approximately 5% of the global fashion market, where the leaders are China and the United States.
When talking about production, this region has outstanding players that, in order of importance, are Brazil, Mexico and Colombia.
In these countries, mainly, the economic reactivation of the industry after the pandemic occurred in 2021, much faster than what the experts projected, who were betting on 2023 or 2024.
“In fact, fashion recovered 3.5% in Latin America in 2021 despite the fact that in the analyzes the figures related to Venezuela blur regional growth a lot,” Juan Fernando Loaiza, economic researcher at the Institute for Exports, told EFE. and Fashion (Inexmoda).
For this reason, “by 2023, with the economic slowdown and inflation, the growth projection of the regional sector is between 2 and 4%,” said the spokesperson for the Colombian entity responsible for organizing Colombiatex de las Américas, the most important fair in the world. guild on the mainland.
Brazil wants to take advantage of the opportunities
Brazil’s textile industry is among the 10 largest in the world, with annual revenues of approximately 45 billion dollars and the generation of around 1.5 million direct jobs.
“Our expectation is for modest growth, taking into account that GDP should not increase much, ranging between 1% and 1.5%,” Fernando Valente Pimentel, executive director of the Brazilian Association of the Textile Industry, told EFE. and Clothing (Abit).
The South American giant’s work agenda for 2023 includes increasing competitiveness and productivity, promoting the implementation of the Mercosur-European Union free trade agreement, and facilitating business involving other South American countries.
According to Valente, Brazil’s sales in Central America, Mexico and the United States can be strengthened because “it is a market that has been looking for us to replace some imports that come from Asia.”
The textile industry focused on sustainability
The multinational Vicunha, one of the three largest producers of indigo and denim in the world, has sustainability among its priorities.
In this sense, María Angélica Rodríguez, Vicunha’s Marketing Manager for Latin America, told EFE that the Brazilian company ventured into clothing made with hemp, which “is the most sustainable fiber that exists, much more than cotton, because it requires less land, does not use fertilizers or pesticides and can be grown in different climates.”
Also, Tiago Peixoto, executive director of Cataguases, considered the largest company specialized in cotton flat fabrics in Latin America, with exports to more than 30 countries, told EFE that “economically the world changed after the pandemic and the war between Russia and Ukraine”.
For this reason, “today the production chains are being reorganized and Latin American companies have the challenge of taking advantage of the gaps that the great global competitors have left since 2020,” said the spokesperson.
The challenges of Mexico in the textile industry
According to a report delivered to EFE by the National Chamber of the Clothing Industry, Mexican clothing after the post-pandemic period “positioned itself as the fifth sector with the greatest dynamism in terms of growth levels within manufacturing, surpassing by 2.4% the industry average as a whole.
In fact, the increase in exports, mainly to the United States, is one of the key points in the recovery.
Another aspect that is encouraging is the increased demand for garments made in the country since “with the problems in the supply chains and the container crisis that occurred between 2021 and 2022, many buyers decided to increase and promote supplies within the hemisphere,” the entity explained.
That said, outsourcing is seen today as a unique opportunity to increase Mexican production and become an economic trigger in some of its regions due to its consequent job creation.
To achieve this, the challenges for the industry in 2023 include the fight against illegality, contraband and insecurity, and the threat that consumption will lose dynamism due to inflation.
Likewise, it is urgent to “hire trained personnel because in 2022 there were difficulties and it is estimated that between 20% and 30% of the employment required by the Mexican sector was not covered,” said the Chamber.
The market is there and you have to conquer it
In Colombia, the textile industry, which represents 9.4% of industrial GDP and generates close to 600,000 jobs, has grown in terms of sales and has been able to conquer new markets thanks to its innovations and designs.
This allowed it to overcome the pandemic, since between January and November 2022 the country exported 962.6 million dollars, an increase of 6.5% compared to the same period of the previous year, according to official figures.
To continue at this pace, it is key to understand that “the world is crying out for the improvement of all production processes to guarantee a sustainable future,” Esteban Restrepo, Manufacturing Manager at Crystal, a business group present in 13 Latin American countries, told EFE.
In this regard, Guillermo Criado, general manager of Teks, which has the largest textile inventory in Colombia, told EFE that “sustainability cannot simply be a fad but a commitment that implies investments by companies to implement technologies green”.
The result of this work will be to be ready to take advantage of the expansion paths that are within reach because Latin America offers a market of about 650 million inhabitants, to which must be added the 333 million consumers of the United States. and the 38 million that Canada has.