Urgent Measures Needed!”In the shadow of the pristine Adriatic Sea, Albania’s vibrant fashion industry faces uncertainty, putting around 75,000 jobs on the line. The culprit? An unexpected twist in the currency tale as the lek flexes its muscles against the euro, rendering Albania’s fashion exports powerless in the fiercely competitive market.
Albania, known for its sprawling textile and fashion factories, has long been a critical player in the European fashion scene. The heart of the issue lies in the latest statistics from Instat, revealing a disheartening 4.3% year-on-year decline in exports, with the textile and footwear sector taking the most brutal hit, contributing to a dismal overall decrease.
The numbers speak a grim story – a staggering 8.6% drop in exports during the first ten months of the year, with Italy, the coveted market just across the Adriatic, witnessing a 9.4% decline.
The Pro-Eksport association, representing 840 businesses in the sector, recently sounded the alarm bells in a press conference on November 24, shedding light on the perilous state of affairs in the fashion and textiles realm.
In a poignant open letter addressed to key figures in the Albanian government, Pro-Eksport paints a picture of an industry teetering on the brink. A cascade of challenges, from a peculiar surge in the lek’s strength to escalating costs, liquidity shortages, and production slowdowns, has pushed the sector to a breaking point.
“The manufacturing businesses in the sector have already started to reduce production lines; some others have started closing businesses, as the costs while waiting for the situation to change are high,” the letter reads, laying bare the industry’s struggle for survival.
At the heart of this turmoil is the “strange” strengthening of the lek, which has surged against the euro throughout 2022. The government’s silence on industry concerns has not gone unnoticed, with Pro-Eksport calling for urgent attention to prevent a social and economic ripple effect.
Albania’s ‘fashion’ sector, a powerhouse that contributes over 38% of the country’s exports, is grappling with the aftermath of a pandemic-induced slump.
The once-thriving textile mills, remnants of the communist era, are now threatened, with factories reducing production and closing doors.
The story is not just about economic turmoil; it’s a poignant narrative of a country’s journey from a communist-era textile giant to a struggling but resilient fashion hub. With its sprawling Albanian diaspora, Italy stands as both a lifeline and a challenge, as the ‘Made in Italy’ label becomes a beacon of hope and a symbol of struggle for Albania’s fashion industry.
As the lek continues its relentless climb, the Pro-Eksport association urges the Albanian government to recognise the vital role of the ‘falcon’ sector, not just in terms of economic contribution but also as a significant source of employment. The future of 75,000 jobs hangs in the balance, and the stakes are high in the battle for the survival of Albania’s fashion legacy.