Miguel Goulão (President of Assimagra): "Portugal is considered one of the world's players in the transformation process of the ornamental rock".
Miguel Goulão (President of Assimagra): "Portugal is considered one of the world's players in the transformation process of the ornamental rock".

ASSIMAGRA's President praises STONE, the reference fair for the stone sector in Portugal. Makes a balance of the current challenges of the industry and how it can innovate and gain new values.

How do you see 2021 for the stone sector?

Last year was a year in which the sector reached the highest export value in its history. It is a positive year. However, the year holds within itself some challenges, namely the valorization of processes and resources. Despite the growth in value, the sector did not know how to value the resource in the same way. We are losing value in the export process, that is, we are exporting more, but making less money. The sector has to do this reflection. In some markets we are growing in terms of euros and value. In others we are growing in terms of euros, but we are decreasing in value. This means that we are exporting more tons, but with less value.

How can Portugal continue to assert itself in the foreign market?

Portugal is today considered one of the world's players in the ornamental stone transformation process. From a geographical point of view, we are one of the smallest countries in the world. If we occupy the 7th position it is because we know how to do it well. If we do a per capita ratio, we are the 2nd most important country in the world in this trade. This is the fruit of our work, innovation, and the research and development processes connected to extraction and transformation.

What are the current challenges for the industry?

Labor is one of the big problems. We can invest in development and innovation, but the human factor is crucial for the good execution of the activity. The sector has to know how to capture more adequate human resources and be more competitive. Next are the energy costs, where the State also has a role to play. Fuel is taxed to the sector at the same price as those who use their vehicles for walking around. This doesn't make any sense. The taxation of the sector's use of this resource has to be done in a strategic way. We can't think that we tax companies with certain percentages and then want them to be competitive in a global market, where other competitors are taxed differently.

To what extent does STONE's bet continue to be an asset for companies in the sector?

This initiative may seem symbolic to many, but for others it is the result of the demonstration of the sector's strength. It is an event made in Portugal in an unusual geography and therefore more difficult to achieve. STONE has existed for more than 10 years and that is very significant and the result of a regional economy, which exists and is important. STONE is a fair with a national and international dimension, but its main wealth is in the region where it is located. It is in the Central region that we find the largest companies in the sector, the best examples of innovation and the largest investments made in recent years. The Central region is where the stone pulses and has a lot of future. 

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