The Italian tanners' association Unione Nazionale Industria Conciaria (UNIC) is to branch out on the Internet with a global portal designed to accelerate trade in hide and skins. The site will be an extension to the LPOnline platform which has been created in conjunction with Lineapelle - one of the leading international trade fairs for the leather sector - and will be fully operational by 2001.As one of the world's main buyers of raw hides, the Italian tanning industry is keen to use the international potential of the Internet as a tool to accelerate trade and increase savings. UNIC is also keen to point out that the site will be managed by industry professionals. Approximately 4,500 companies will be involved - 2,000 tanneries and 2,500 suppliers. The commodity parameters for sales will be catalogued and computerised in collaboration with international suppliers.In Italy it is estimated that turnover of the raw and semi-tanned market amounts to around $2.2bn out of a world total of over $9bn.