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We are at an important moment with the creation and operation of the Andalucia trade agency.

The Natural Stone sector re-enacts the awards that were presented during the last edition.

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We are at an important moment with the creation and operation of the Andalucia trade agency.

The Natural Stone sector re-enacts the awards that were presented during the last edition. This edition covers two annuities that were made due to the forced suspension of the previous edition.

The Association of Andalusian Marble Entrepreneurs was led by Jesus Posadas Chinchilla, and his management team. They wanted to relaunch the Macael Awards gala following two years of difficult times for the sector. Do they realize that this sector requires a 'new normality?

It is, in fact, the gala that brings continuity to the long-awaited normality. It is the night when Macael sees the world and vice versa. We have the chance to once again show the world the amazing work being done in the Macael Marble Region.

-The EEA released sector data that show an increase in direct employment.

- While there were some months when job destruction was evident, the situation has improved in recent months and we can now say that we have more direct jobs than ever before the pandemic.

Have foreign sales been affected by the pandemic

Yes, they have indeed suffered. Due to global uncertainty, there was a significant break during the middle of pandemic. The pace of many international projects we were involved in slowed down, which directly affected exports. It has been slowly but surely possible to start over, though not with the same speed and as many companies as we want.

-There were 25 nominations in this edition. Does this indicate that the sector is in good health? Are they ready to meet the challenges of the future?

We have experienced a really difficult time. This is true for all sectors. We are slowly restoring the energy of the projects, as shown by the works submitted for awards. Seven companies have presented their work, which shows that this sector is solid and has a lot more potential.

The Junta de Andalucia was cited for completing the Almanzora section. Are you aware that the road will not continue until it connects to Baza? Do they feel satisfied with the 'last mile?

We are pleased about the completion of the motorway linking Fines with the A7. This is mainly because it was vital infrastructure for the region's marble exports. We have to be realistic, and realize that there is still much to do between Fines and Caniles. The Andalusian administration must make a claim to start preparing the preliminary projects necessary to complete this highway.

-The dual FP took new steps to train young people looking for jobs in the sector. Is this a demand from business? Are young people able to learn the skills that companies really need?

Dual vocational training should be a reality in the region. There are many outstanding facilities like the Fines Marble School. If it is to be transferred to Education, it will be done because there is high demand from the sector for companies to offer a job solution to many young people wanting to learn this trade. It is unacceptable that there is such a high youth unemployment rate and that these companies do not have highly skilled jobs.

-Are businessmen supported by institutions at the worst time of the Pandemic's onset? What was their reaction to the most difficult moments?

-Loneliness is a constant feeling, particularly when there has not been direct aid for our sector. However, it is true that general aid has been available to us. Although there have been many restrictions to being a beneficiary of various aids, some have been corrected and others must be approached with a different perspective to reach the goals that companies desire.

What other immediate challenges will AEMA face in the next months?

We are about to be at a crucial and essential moment for our future companies. This is the creation of the Andalucia Trade agency, and the Crece Industria 2022 Action Plan. They must be the engines for aid in marketing and international implementation, as well as in the reindustrialization, promotion, and maintenance of the Macael Brand, and all aspects of the natural stone value chain.

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