Ethiopia assessing possible leather market in South, North Sudan

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A delegation from the Leather Industry Development Institute (LIDI) and local tanneries is scheduled travel to South and North Sudan this week, to evaluate possible conditions to start importing raw and semi finished leather from the two countries.
The two Sudans are major African countries that have a large cattle population and are considered by the Ethiopian government to be a good source for raw hide and skin for local tanneries.
Since input shortage was observed as of last year, the government looked into possible ways to fill the gap. Hide and skin import from African markets is given priority attention but other potential markets like Yemen were also noted as a second option.
Sources at the institute told Capital that the delegation will visit the two countries to assess the market and other related facilities that are needed to commence the import. “Under the existing conditions, the South Sudan market is where the delegation will first pay a visit; but it will also go to North Sudan to see other possibilities,” experts at LIDI said.
“The transportation facility between the two countries, the trading scheme, products’ qualities and other related issues will be the major focus areas that the delegates will look into during their visit,” the experts explained.
The new foreign based tanneries and the expanding local leather industry have encountered critical shortages of hides and skins since early last year. To keep the sector vibrant the government has been studying ways to import needed materials.
A share company formed through the Ethiopian Leather Industries Association (ELIA) will undertake the imports for the local companies here or individual tanneries can do it on their own. 
Ethiopia is interested to import crust with wet blue and pickle as options if crust is not available. The import of raw hide and skin would be the last option. Crust import is favoured as it minimizes the production process for local tanneries and reduces the environmental impact that occurs through processing.
25 tanneries are now operating in the country but most production is done by few major foreign companies. According to experts, lack of market chain with tanneries is one of the reasons for the material shortage.
Most of the tanneries start their production from the first stage (soaking). According to experts it would be advantageous if companies divide their production in different phases of leather production.
Currently the government has suspended new tanneries from entering the industry due to the hide and skin shortage.