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Prices of raw materials

The COTANCE Bologna Council sends an alarm message to European trade authorities on raw material prices

Bologna hosted on October 11, 2013, on the sideline of the Lineapelle Fair, the autumn Council of COTANCE gathering representatives from Italy, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, Sweden and Romania.

Important topics were on the agenda regarding the Environmental Footprint of leather and the EU Pilot for developing official Product Category Rules for Leather that COTANCE applied for to the European Commission, EU labelling of leather, Safety of Products and origin marking, as well as the EU rules on Cr VI restriction and the labelling of products treated with biocide products, among others.

Discussions focalised however on the current market situation and perspectives for raw material prices that are remaining at historic high levels and squeeze European tanners progressively into a non-sustainable business scenario. Every day brings new information on supplier countries throttling exports of raw hides, skins and wet-blue. More and more countries are adopting more and more protectionist measures reducing the supply in the “open market” and competitors operating behind such “protecting walls” increasingly consume those resources remaining. Argentina, Brazil, Andean Countries, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine, Morocco, Nigeria, etc. and now also Turkey don’t allow European tanners to source freely raw materials in their domestic market while they raid barrier-free markets such as Europe. Without reciprocity Europe’s leather industry has its days numbered.

European tanners are not seeing their trade authorities bringing home any relief. There are even authorities in EU Member States that do not support the collection of statistical evidence (a monitoring exercise) that would allow appreciating officially whether there is a need for emergency action that would be legally applicable. This illustrates the drift that pushes more and more European industrialists and workers into distrust in politics. This is not an ideal situation with European elections and new Commission at the doorstep (2014).

Europe needs to make up its mind whether it wants to keep the World’s top of the class leather industry at home generating wealth and employment or whether it will surrender without resistance to unfair trade barriers and rogue business practices.

Brussels, 14 October 2013