Ukraine: Confindustria Moda, ‘Russian and Ukrainian markets stand still but Italian industry can withstand a blow’

A month after the start of the conflict in Ukraine, the estimate of the damage related to the Italian textile, clothing and footwear chain is still difficult to quantify but in the long term “the Italian industry is able to withstand the blow”. This was said to Adnkronos by Cirillo Marcolin, president of Confindustria Moda, the Federation that brings together companies and associations in the textile, fashion and accessories sector, drawing up an assessment of the sector. “At the moment official data are not yet available – warns Marcolin -. The market towards Russia and Ukraine is almost at a standstill and alarming reports have been received from the districts most exposed to these areas. After the health emergency it is a further blow for companies” .

“Difficult”, for Marcolin, to make complete assessments on the effects on the sector in the medium to long term, but if the conflict were to continue until the end of 2022 and the sanctions remain in force “considering that the Russian market accounts for 2.2% of ours the industry as a whole is able to withstand the blow, “he says. However, it will be necessary “to support the districts most in difficulty, because some sectors most exposed to Russia will suffer more than others – warns Marcolin -. If the conflict were to continue, the disaster would undoubtedly be humanitarian rather than economic and, therefore, we believe that the sanctions are not only fair, but also necessary. Net of this, the main economic concerns are linked to indirect problems, such as the jump in the costs of raw materials and energy, problems prior to the conflict and which the latter has only aggravated . In addition to the well-known energy problem, in fact, there is a great problem of raw materials which particularly involves goldsmithing, textiles and tanning “.

For the goldsmith, for example, Russia is the second supplier of palladium for Italy, the third of platinum and the eighth of gold. For textiles, explains the number one of Confindustria Moda, problems could arise for the linen that is grown there and for the supply of auxiliary chemicals. For tanning, Ukraine ranks tenth among the main suppliers of semi-finished leathers to Italian tanneries. “In this context, our main non-EU competitors will have greater availability of raw materials and will benefit commercially from the economic consequences of the conflict – Marcolin points out – with consequent loss of market share for the national TMA companies. A concerted strategy will be needed. at 360 ° also with the European Union to better address this situation “.

As for paralyzed exports to Russia, the sector represented by Confindustria Moda “is very diversified internally”, affirms Marcolin. Overall, before the pandemic, the Russian and Ukrainian markets represented for Italian exports a value of 1.5 billion and 250 million euros respectively, in a sector that was worth a total of about 98 billion. In 2021, after the collapse of 2020, exports in both markets were in strong recovery, marking a trend of + 17.8% in Russia and + 23.3% in Ukraine.

“Among the seven associations that are confederated in Confindustria Moda, some are hit harder than others – underlines Marcolin -. Of course I am speaking of footwear in the first place, but also of textiles and leather goods, for which in fact negotiations have been started with the ministry. of Labor and with the trade unions to be able to access subsidies and a facilitated layoff such as that for Covid. Overall, for the Textile, Fashion and Accessories industry, Russia is worth 2.2% of total exports, while Ukraine 0.4% “.

Even the areas bordering Russia “represent for the Textile, Fashion and Accessory industry markets of similar importance to that of the Russian market – adds Marcolin -. Poland, for example, accounts for 2.1% of the export of our sector, marking a dynamic recovery of + 35% compared to 2020 in 2021, even exceeding the pre-pandemic numbers. Romania is also an important market, which is worth 2% of TMA exports and last year marked a recovery positive by + 12.1%. These markets play a particularly strategic role for the tanning sector, for which Romania is the second country in terms of export value and Poland the ninth. But also footwear and leather goods had recorded significant increases of exports in 2021 to Poland, while goldsmiths and textiles had registered them to Romania “.

Possible gas-related retaliation is also of major concern to the sector. “It is precisely on this aspect that the main concerns of the sector, as well as of the economy in general, focus – explains Marcolin -. The explosion of energy costs, which actually occurred long before the conflict, affects everyone across the board. businesses, especially putting the most energy-intensive companies upstream of the supply chain in crisis. and medium-sized enterprises that make up the Textile, Fashion and Accessory industry become difficult to sustain. In fact, pouring down the costs downstream cannot be the only solution, because the overall increase in prices risks entailing a reduction in consumption, thus leading to to the recession “.

To deal with this situation, Marcolin concludes, there are several ways. “Surely the imposition by the government of a price ceiling is a first possible solution to be considered – he says – as well as the fiscal interventions that have already been implemented but which, for now, are not sufficient. the real challenge is to accelerate the green transition, implementing solutions that allow companies to produce energy in a sustainable and independent way, alongside the development of a 360 ° energy strategy that involves the entire country-system and the whole EU ” .