he Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association (ABIT) represents the entire
Brazilian textile industry. Founded in the early 1960s, ABIT sponsors some 30,000 companies
directly or indirectly working for the whole textile production chain. The following aspects are
covered within ABIT’s sector committees:
- machinery, quality and productivity/infrastructure/standards;
- finance and statistics;
- foreign trade;
- fibers, including cotton, raw wool, wool tops and yarn, long staple fibers;
- spinning, including cotton, man-made, viscose, linen, ramie;
- sewing threads;
- weaving, including denim;
- warp knitting;
- apparel; and
- home textiles, including rugs and carpets.
Fernando Pimentel, the association’s executive director since 2005 and working in the
textile industry since 1976, says ABIT’s mission is to support the sustainable development of the
Brazilian textile industry, representing its interests in the presence of governmental and
international organizations, as well as making the textile sector better known to the general
public. On event sponsored by ABIT is the ABIT Fashion Prize, bringing together key personalities
of different sectors to publish outstanding achievements by Brazilian textile companies.
Promoting The Domestic Textile Industry
TW Asia: Fernando Pimentel, how do you promote Brazilian textiles?
Pimentel: In 2001 ABIT, supported by Apex-Brasil [Brazilian Trade and Investment
Promotion Agency] launched TexBrasil, the trademark that promotes Brazilian textile products
abroad. In parallel with promoting Brazilian textile products in the world market, TexBrasil
develops strategic programs for exportation, stimulating Brazilian entrepreneurs through its
activities and courses to increase their exports. The export strategies developed by TexBrasil have
now become a benchmark for Apex.
TW Asia: What are ABIT’s activities for your domestic textile industry?
Pimentel: To achieve excellence within the textile sector, ABIT develops special
professional training programs and supports social and environmental programs, among other
TW Asia: What do you want to achieve as executive director?
Pimentel: My job is to promote, organize and propose programs to increase
awareness of the Brazilian textile industry. It is important to know that ABIT is backed by 50
leaders from all sectors of the textile industry. The motto of the forthcoming ITMF conference in
São Paulo – “Compliance, Sustainability and Profitability” – matches perfectly our own ABIT
philosophy. All the small and mostly medium-sized member companies are called to work according to
ethical, legal and sustainable standards.
Brazil’s textile industry ranks second in importance behind the food and beverage industry.
Seventeen percent of Brazil’s workers are involved in the textile industry, with 7 million working
directly in the industry and 7 million to 8 million working indirectly as subcontractors and
TW Asia: Is Brazil basically a cotton-growing country?
Pimentel: Up to now, one can say so. Sixty percent of all textile products are
made of cotton. However, man-made fibers are processed more and more in Brazil – basically because
of Petrobras, one of the country’s largest companies, producing domestic oil products. Therefore,
man-made fibers are gaining importance, also for the export industry.
TW Asia: How do you see the current market situation? Was Brazil hurt too by the
Pimentel: Thanks to our big domestic market, it was not so bad. That market is
growing by 12 percent, and production is rising, but also, imports grew by 60 percent in 2009. We
have a strong currency and competition mainly from China. For 2010, our gross domestic product
(GDP) is expected to grow by 4 percent.
We hope that finally, all markets have the same conditions, not only China. Domestic
consumption is soaring, and the domestic market is open. We are very concerned and, of course, we
want free trade, but the same rules and yardsticks for everybody, please.
TW Asia: This is quite a big challenge.
Pimentel: Yes, and it is a new challenge. Already, we export more technical
textiles and nonwovens than apparel. Brazil is not a cheap market anymore. We need 2 million new
jobs every year. The standard of education is rising on all levels. Oil and gas industry
investments in the next five years will be $250 billion. For the domestic infrastructure, $300
billion is spent every year. At the moment, textiles consumption per capita is some 11 to 12
kilograms (kg). With an annual GDP growth of 5 percent, we can double consumption in the next five
TW Asia: But you cannot only depend on the domestic market.
Pimentel: Of course not. As mentioned above, if problems occur again, the
Brazilian market will be under great pressure from foreign countries.
TW Asia: What are the main advantages for Brazil and its textile industry?
Pimentel: From raw material up to the finished product, we have all production
stages. Our machinery equipment and technology are up to date. Our domestic market has big
development potential. The population is growing by 2 percent — 2 million people — every year. The
textile industry is a growing, positive sector.
TW Asia: Why should an entrepreneur invest in the Brazilian textile industry?
Pimentel: We have a lot of advantages compared to other countries: a stable
economy, a lot of different raw materials available, labor peace, a serious workforce. Brazil is a
democracy and a multiethnic society with no problems, and one single language with no conflicts and
clear rules for everybody. All this supports a favorable investment environment.
The idea to bring the 2010 ITMF Annual Conference to Brazil was developed by ITMF and ABIT
to show the world how important the Brazilian textile industry is for the country as such.
TW Asia: What do you expect from the congress?
Pimentel: On the one hand, this is a very important moment for the country to show
the local authorities the importance of the textile industry. On the other hand, it is a platform
to be accepted. However, we don’t have an open door only for overcapacity production, but also for
true long-time investments. I can only say to the world: Here we are with open arms, but let’s work
together with equal social and environmental standards.
TW Asia: And what do you expect from the congress for Brazil’s textile
Pimentel: We expect many visitors to demonstrate the advantages of a production
site in Brazil. We do a lot of promotion among young people, to show how attractive the textile
industry is. This has to be done in a Brazilian way of life, and I welcome everyone to join us in
October 2010 in São Paulo for the ITMF conference.