Businesses in the Kenyan leather industry have appealed to the Government to hike duties on imported footwear and leather goods in a bid to protect the local industry.

They also want a 10 per cent export duty imposed on raw hides and skins to increase capacity utilisation of local tanneries - and 20 per cent export incentives on value added leather products such as shoe uppers.

Kenya has over 16 registered medium and large-scale commercial tanneries with a total investment of US$50.5 million (Sh3.8 billion), but many operate at just 20 per cent of their full capacity.

"We expect this sub-sector to be revived after the accreditation of Kenya as a beneficiary country under AGOA. The products under this sub-sector are eligible for export to the US duty free under the Act. Over 18,000 jobs will be created if the sub-sector is revived," says allAfrica.com citing a Government document.