Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Semi-processed leather import encouraged

The Leather Industry Development Institution (LIDI) is dropping plans to import raw leather, opting instead to import semi-processed leather products.
LIDI decided make the switch after conducting a study during the last fiscal year, with input from other African countries and looking into the experience of other leather producing nations; in an attempt to solve the shortage of supplies for local tanneries. 
Sources at the institute say the new direction should minimize the production process for local tanneries and reduce the environmental impact that occurs through processing.
For the last two decades major leather producing countries have been importing semi processed leather products. 
Previously the government had planned to import raw leather beginning this fiscal year, although that plan had not yet started.
Now sources say semi processed leather will begin being imported at the end of the third quarter of the current budget year.
The institute, after researching leather suppliers, decided on Sudan and Central Africa, to be the source of semi processed product.
“Central African nations and Sudan is where we will begin imports, Yemen also has potential but is too unstable now,” the source added.
New foreign based tanneries and the expanding local leather industry have meant a shortage of hides and skins since early last year. To keep the sector vibrant the government had been looking at the best way to import needed materials. 
A share company formed through the Ethiopian Leather Industries Association (ELIA) will undertake the import or individual tanneries can do it on their own. 
Based on the new plan, importing crust will be a priority with wet blue and pickle available as other options if crust is not available.
Currently the government has suspended new tanneries from entering the industry due to the hide and skin shortage.
25 tanneries are now working in the country but most production is being done by a few major foreign companies. According to experts, lack of a market chain with tanneries is one of the major reasons for the material shortage.
“Most of the tanneries began their production from the first stage (soaking), while would be better if the companies divided their production in different phase,” one expert said.
The government and ELIA had agreed to undertake the study which looked at the possibility of a production chain to solve the competition for collecting raw material.