The dragon leatherChina is changing and the Shanghai event confirms this: the footwear industry slows down, automotive up and meanwhile they wait for the first results of the new sustainable policies. There is ferment in Asia, and the neighbouring countries are not sitting back and watching
Eight pavilions, 92,000 square metres, 1,081 exhibitors from 39 countries, almost 23,000 visitors: these are the ever-impressive figures of the All China Leather Exhibition, an event that reflects the health of the Chinese tanning industry and that continues
to be a very important platform for Asian countries. To the extent that the slight drop in local visitors has been offset by arrivals from Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan and Korea, which illustrates the new balances in the ASEAN area. According to organisers, the negotiations and agreements between tanners, suppliers of raw materials and chemical manufacturers were very “lively”, benefitting from the drop in prices after the APLF (March). Despite the usual statements, the fact remains that the 20th ACLE corroborated the continuing changes occurring in China.
Figures for the first six-months
Li Yuzhong, Chairman of the China Leather Industry Association (CLIA), opened the event by revealing that domestic consumption for the first six-months of 2017 remained positive, with sales volumes growing by 6.6% (on an annual basis), for a turnover of 103.5 billion dollars. However, Chinese leather is suffering on the international market: Beijing’s exports fell by 8.2% (38.4 billion dollars). This decline is partly due to the revolution that the government has implemented to bring tanneries in line with the international regulations and sustainability standards. It is no lie that Chinese shoes are limping: in the last seven years, Beijing’s market share has fallen from 73.3% (in 2010) to the current 67.3%. Notwithstanding these numbers (which are Chinese and therefore huge) the “new course” is expected with trepidation. «The process to clean-up and protect the environment that began three years ago and that led to the closure of the most polluting tanneries and textile factories has now ended», explained Michael Duck, APLF Director. «So, this is a crucial time for the Chinese compartment. Not only for the environmental sustainability and the benefits to the health of citizens, but above all to encourage new investments in the sector: working with Chinese tanneries has become eco-friendly, competitive and much more convenient».
From all over the world
China wants to (re)open itself to the world, but ACLE continues to be a Chinese fair for the Chinese market. Two-thirds of the exhibition area were occupied by Chinese players: translated into figures this means 766 exhibitors out of 1081 were locals. There was also a healthy number of Italian delegations, the second highest after China in terms of attendance, with 48 brands present, which we refer to in the usual Carnet accompanying the article. The USA was represented with 25 brands, Brazil with 23, France and Australia with 12, to roughly map out the major regions of the industry. At the Chinese event, organisers also invited a delegation of 20 companies from Vietnam, aware of the weight that this country is beginning
to have on the global scenario of leather goods and footwear.
The automotive production speeds ahead
Footwear that, as mentioned, sets the pace in China, compensated however by the car industry, which on the contrary, speeds ahead. «In 2016, automotive production and the sales volumes generated a flow of about 4.2 million dollars each, with a growth rate of 14.5% and 13.7% respectively», explained Li Yuzhong. «During 2017, we expect to see a further increase of 5% compared to last year. An evident opportunity for the car compartment». This led to the invitation to the car industry: the major brands were present in Shanghai, led by the Volkswagen Group, but also FCA and Jaguar/Land Rover and fifty or so contractors specialising in the production of car seats and interiors.
Sectors of origin
Finally, it is worth mentioning the sectors from which the exhibitors originate, which embrace all the figures of the chain, but with rather unusual discrepancies. Starting from the fact that 25% of exhibitors in a fair dedicated to leather come from synthetic materials. There was a good presence of semi-finished or finished leather (21%) and chemical manufacturers (15%).
A discrete number of shoe components (14% of those present) and a lower participation by tanning machinery (7.5%).