Although clothing and car wiring harnesses continue to lead, the number of types of goods exported under the free zone regime has gone from ten in 2008 to 20 today.
Production and export of clothing and wiring harnesses are still the main goods produced and exported under free trade zone conditions, but now others have been added such as as cigars, edible oil, fruits, leather shoes, paper, cardboard, and manufactured leather covers for furniture.
A report by the Business Intelligence Unit at CentralAmericaData.com notes that in 2015 Central American countries imported $318 million worth of yarns, filaments and textiles, led by El Salvador with $157 million.
El Salvador was the main importer of synthetic filaments, strips and materials similar to synthetic textiles last year, according to data on the Textiles and Raw Materials Market compiled by the Business Intelligence Unit at CentralAmericaData.com.
To compensate for the loss of market which is expected once the Transpacific Agreement takes effect, the textile industry intends to resume FTA negotiations with the northern country.
A free trade agreement with Canada would allow the exporting textile companies to enter a market with high potential, since according to theexecutive director of Camtex, Patricia Figueroa, the country imports more than $14,000 million a year in textiles products and confection of synthetics such and towels, carpets, curtains and tablecloths. "
At the end of the first half of the year maquila textile exports to the United States grew by 13% compared to the same period in 2015.
Figures from the biannual report by the US Office of Textiles and Clothing (OTEXA) show that between January and June Nicaragua sold 255 million square meter equivalents (SME) to the United States generating revenues of $708 million.
A meeting is being convened for the textile and clothing industry on March 16 in El Salvador, where the overall situation in the sector will be discussed.
From a statement issued by Proesa:
El Salvador is preparing for the third edition of the Forum of Textiles and Apparel (FOROTEX) 2016, a space where high-level international speakers present trends and strategies for competing in international markets.
Its participation in the US market has dropped, but the unification of the cluster now encompasses the entire manufacturing process, generating exports worth $1.5 billion.
The integration of the production process, generating greater added value to all parts of the production chain of the textile industry, has enabled the industry to stay afloat and face off competition from producers such as Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries.
Efforts are growing to minimize the impact of the possible signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and a tariff reduction program with long deadlines for sensitive products has been proposed.
As negotiations proceed to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the textile industry in El Salvador is stepping up its efforts to maintain the conditions of the CAFTA treaty and minimize the impact that the TPP will have on the sector in the long term. One of the main risks is that "... Vietnam could introduce products from China and then export them tariff-free to the United States, which would give them a huge competitive advantage. "
In order to improve their competitiveness in the manufacturer of uniforms and baseballs Rawlings Costa Rica will move its uniform line to El Salvador, laying off 200 workers.
The company which has operations in Turrialba announced that the main reason behind the transfer of operations is to do with competition.The manager Alejandro Cotter told Crhoy.com that "... 'uniforms are a very competitive in the global market, unfortunately Asia dominates and we in Costa Rica have certain disadvantages, not only due to national situations but also because of the scale we produce, it is an exclusive line for a small segment.'"
The textile industry has proposed that the government implement labor schemes with flexible hours, allowing plants to operate on shifts of up to 14 and 16 hours.
The proposal involves establishing modern labor schemes, as implemented in other markets, said Patricia Figueroa, executive director of the Chamber of the Textiles, Clothing and Free Zones of El Salvador. With this plan different employees work in plants in longer shifts, allowing better utilization of productive resources.
Factors such as production costs and labor, as well as security and economic stability seem to be more relevant to the textile companies that choose the country than tariff benefits.
The expiry on December 31 of the Tariff Preference Level (TPL) with the United States has not impacted the textile industry, as initially expected at least so far. According to the Nicaraguan Association of Textile and Apparel Industry (Anitec), the country still has attractive conditions for foreign investment in this sector.
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INDUTEX main manufacturing business is the towel market, mops, cleaning cloths and yarns with products for the hotel segment and all the way through the popular segments.
Operates in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama
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