CHINA: Leather Industry To Raise International Profile
China's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is likely to benefit the country's leather industry by giving it greater profile in the international market. And the next 10-15 years are likely to see this sector emerge as a world-class player, with improved quality and global fashion brands.
According to Zhang Shuhua, vice-chairman of the China Leather Industry Association, the lower import tariffs that will come from the country's move into the WTO will enable domestic makers to import more high-grade leather at much lower cost, thus helping them produce high-quality products and build brands. She also believes that exports will rise as quota controls are lifted.
However, she notes that the sector needs to focus more on quality, profit and brand building. "Domestic leather manufacturers should attach great importance to fashionable designs and advanced technologies even though it might lead to less output," she said.
China's large leather products sector currently has the advantage of being a low cost producer, with around 16,000 companies employing 2 million workers and producing 2.2 billion pairs of leather shoes and 62 million leather garments each year. Last year, the country exported US$11.7 billion worth of leather products, up 20 per cent over 1999.
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