In an effort to shore up Catalonia's once mighty textile sector the Catalan regional government has announced a €10.5 million package that it hopes will give the regions textile industry competitiveness again.
 
The plan, aimed at countering pressure from foreign imports, includes incentives for technological investment and new machinery as well as training programs for sector employees.

As elsewhere in the EU, the Spanish textile industry has been hard hit by the liberalisation of world trade.

The lifting of import restrictions on gloves, anoraks, corduroy, baby clothes, and track suits has seen local manufacturers struggle to compete, while industry leaders and Unions agree that 112,000 - 42 per cent of the sector - are now in danger.

Between 2002 and 2004 alone, 800 companies went bust in Spain, with the loss of some 35,000 jobs.

Barcelona's rag trade district now looks like China Town as container load after container load of cheap textiles flood the area forcing long-standing Barcelona outlets such as Puigneró to close.

In the first quarter of this year, clothes manufacturing has fallen by 8.7 per cent, while in the rest of the sector, production has fallen by 12.4 per cent.

By Michael Fitzpatrick.