Shanghai, a starting pointA local fair for a global interest: ACLE 2017 took stock of the world leather industry.
The importance of the annual appointment with the All China Leather Exhibition is such that – after having seen here figures and attendances about the 2017 event – it is opportune to examine the world picture that emerged at the end of the event in Shanghai. While it is true that the event is mainly for the (enormous) Chinese market, it is also true that it remains a valid indicator of the supply chains of countries that have customers or suppliers in China. That means almost everyone.
One of the focal points emerging from the three days of ACLE was the strong emphasis on more sustainable tanning methods at a global level. And not only because it completes the large environmental recovery policy that Beijing imposed three years ago on tanning and textiles (as explained Michael Duck, director of APLF, during the opening ceremony), but also because of the evident commitment of the major players, foremost Italy, to reduce environmental impact. Social responsibility was the common denominator in the sessions of the first day, where the modus operandi of some Italian tanneries were brought up as virtuous examples, and the Passport of Products introduced by Smit & Zoon.
As regards the perception in the world’s major districts, the feeling at ACLE was one of cautious optimism. CLIA (China Leather Industry Association) recorded positive margins in 2017, which cushioned the slowdown of the previous year and led to an overall improvement in economic conditions. An improvement also shared by the European tanning industry (except for clothing), and especially the US tanning industry, benefiting from the weak dollar that allows room to manoeuvre on raw materials and from a forecasted growth of 1% in livestock (which translated into numbers by USHSLA President, Stephen Sothmann, would mean a total of 94.5 million heads in 2018). There was also a wake-up call on footwear, a compartment seriously threatened by the spread of athleisure as a lifestyle (we are in the home of Nike, after all). The assessment from the Brazilian market was also positive, even though it has been struggling with the JBS events. The Centro das Indústrias de Curtumes do Brasil (CICB), which brought twenty three Carioca companies to ACLE, emphasised the need of the Shanghai exhibition for relations between Brazilian tanneries and their customers in China: an elegant way of defining the expansion of green/gold leather on the international market.
Also on the front of international trade, ACLE has also strengthened the “One Road, One Belt” initiative between the Chinese and Pakistani governments: it is an “economic corridor” aimed at taking advantage of the tax benefits currently enjoyed by the Pakistani leather industry. This situation not only benefits local businesses, but can also bring products closer to Europe. Let’s not forget, finally, the delegation of twenty companies from Vietnam, an emerging country in the field of footwear and components, which currently imports seventy percent of the raw materials it needs.