A catastrophic omission: the royal decree law 5/2021 that establishes extraordinary measures to support business solvency in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, while calling for direct financial support to freelancers and businesses, excluded an entire sector of the industry represented by components and machines for footwear and leather goods. With a letter to the Government, AEC, the Spanish association of reference, asks for an immediate amendment of this error, so that also its sector, which represents one of the most important productive and innovative pillars for footwear and leather goods on a national and international level, is included. At risk is not only the very existence of the entrepreneurial fabric and the direct and indirect jobs located in the districts of Alicante, Valencia, Barcelona, Murcia, Albacete, La Rioja, Andalusia, and the Balearic Islands, where the components are produced and sold, but also the present and future competitiveness of the Spanish industry, which could be brought to its knees in the absence of relief measures.

“In normal circumstances, today, we would be speaking of how well our fairs are doing and of the projects we are launching; but no, reality is different, and it is called surviving a crisis without precedents and with zero help. – complains Manuel Román Ibáñez, AEC Chairman – At just one year from the beginning of the pandemic, we ask the administration for genuine help so we can finally begin to see a little light at the end of the tunnel, and yet, that which was dreamt up this past Friday, 12 March, was the non-inclusion of our businesses in the RDL 5/2021, which was an absolute disaster!”

Accordingly, Chairman Ibáñez urgently demands that the codes of reference regarding the economic activities of the sector that is part of the footwear, textile, wood, plastic, rubber, packaging, graphic arts, chemical, metal, machinery, and commerce industries, be immediately included in the decree with the immediate implementation of strategic plans for these sectors, while also providing supporting funds, so these sectors can be relaunched internationally.

With a turnover of 2 billion euros and exports worth 1.4 billion euros in 2019, the Spanish sector of components for footwear and leather goods was one of the most dynamic and innovative on a national level. The pandemic hit this sector hard, and in 2020, all of its main indicators were down: -28.2% in production, between -35% and -45% in business volume, and -20% for sector professionals. Even exports numbers dropped dramatically by -35% compared to 2012.

“If the government wants to really help us, now is the time to act and make decisions in our favour, while committing itself once and for all to the Spanish companies belonging to the entire value chain”, concludes Manuel Román Ibáñez.