In the present global situation, strongly impacted by the pandemic and, now, by the war between Russia and Ukraine, disputes over energy, inputs, oil, gas, coal and commodities agricultural products, causing the increase in world prices for these products and inflationary pressures of all kinds. Even nations with a tradition of price stability, such as the United States and Europe, experience the problem, which causes an increase in interest rates, as has already been strongly happening in Brazil. The only certainty at this point is uncertainty about what will happen in the world economy.
The new geopolitical and geoeconomic disputes should result in a new design on the world map of production. We do not yet know the level of transformations that we will experience, but there should be significant changes in strategic areas, such as health, national security, space and cybernetics. Other sectors of the economy should also change in face of the new scenario, but, in our view, with less intensity. As, however, world trade is a source of prosperity for all peoples, it will have to follow its growth path, perhaps at a slower pace. Globalization is also likely to slow down. Asia, with its huge population, continues to be a very relevant market and the most dynamic pole of development.
We can look with reasonable optimism at Brazil’s prospects over the next 30 years. For this, however, it will be necessary to make the right choices and carry out effective public policies.
The correct diagnoses are strategic so that, in the difficult world scenario in which we are inserted, we can see opportunities, which are relevant for Brazil. We have immense potential to help the planet in the areas of energy and food security and in the field of bioeconomy, decarbonization and carbon credits. On all these fronts, we have significant competitive advantages, which may contribute to resuming growth, attracting investments and creating a large number of jobs.
Thus, we can look with reasonable optimism at Brazil’s prospects for the next 30 years. For this, however, it will be necessary to make the right choices and implement effective public policies. In this path, recognizing the importance of all sectors of activity, it is worth considering that the industry is fundamental for us to resume our growth trajectory. Without its promotion and significant gains in competitiveness, our economy will expand below its potential, limiting the possibilities of our greater international insertion in the value chain of more sophisticated goods and for our population to ascend to a standard of living with better education, health, culture , science, technology and sustainability, which are the foundations of a truly developed nation.
An industrial policy anchored in R&D is needed, which includes special lines of credit, production incentives and a tax regime that supports investments aimed at innovation, including capital goods. It is up to the government, in partnership with the private sector, to promote research and science in universities and public institutes, remove bureaucratic obstacles and promote incentives in areas where there are competitive advantages or strategic interest. Structural reforms, especially tax and administrative reforms, are also essential to improve the structure of the public sector, rationalize taxes and provide a better business environment.
Industrial development also needs to adhere to new technologies and the demands of society, investors and consumers. Thus, it must encompass a policy that inserts the sector into the so-called advanced manufacturing, permeated by the digitization of the economy, artificial intelligence, internet of things, 3D printing, robotization and the concept of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance or Environment, Social and Corporate governance).
In this context, the national textile and clothing industry – which brings together all links in the production chain and, despite the drop in the average income of the population, has a large consumer market, considering our 212 million inhabitants – can and must explore all matrices. available in the areas of renewable raw materials, circular economy, advanced manufacturing and a safe and respectful work environment. It is a sector inserted in the sustainability agenda, in the fight against climate change, in the use of cleaner and renewable inputs and energies, and in the principles of ESG.
The Brazilian industrial park is one of the five largest in the world in the textile and clothing area and generates numerous jobs. Today, it employs more than 1.5 million people, representing around 8% of the total jobs in the manufacturing industry in the country. Therefore, the sector has all the potential to surf the waves of possibilities that the historical conjuncture provides in the midst of global uncertainties and crises.
Our country, in a proactive mobilization of the government, of all productive sectors and of society, cannot repeat Roberto Campos’ definition that “Brazil never misses the opportunity to miss an opportunity”. It is up to all of us to fulfill the purpose of building a rich, prosperous and socially just nation.
Fernando Valente Pimentel is the president of the Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association (Abit).