By Jason Moore THE Balearic government has said that it will work long and hard to protect the islands' limited industrial base. The once thriving shoe industry, (which is the key player in local industry) has lost hundreds of jobs over recent years because of cheap imports from the Far East. What I want to know is how the local government intends to safeguard jobs when it is almost impossible to compete against Far East labour costs. Just recently a delegation from China visited the island's few remaining shoe factories and a Balearic delegation has been in China trying to drum-up business. But it appears to be a losing battle. Chinese workers earn a week what their European counterparts earn an hour and you don't have to be Sir Alan Sugar to realise why so many companies are closing down their factories in Europe and heading east. It would be a great shame if the local shoe industry contracted even further, not just because of the jobs which may be lost, but because it is vital to the local economy. I think the only way that the industry can survive in its present shape is to find new markets and try and combat cheap prices with quality products. It is obviously going to be difficult but local shoe firms are not alone, the same story is happening right across Europe at the moment.