In the end, 2019 was not an easy year. In the meantime, Coronavirus, whose impact is still unpredictable, is about to affect the next months to come. US raw hides and skins fear CRV outbreak now. LHCA (Leather & Hides Council of America), the association representing traders and tanners in the USA, put the matter down in black and white. “We can hardly predict the pandemic long-term effects and consequences – pointed out LHCA in their report –. For the time being, trade relations are still feasible, but the situation might change if they were compelled to shut harbours or container problems, linked to availability, turned more serious”.
A difficult 2019
In 2019, exports of US wet blue leather slowed down: for the records, China, Italy and Europe, which are the most important trade partners of the United States, reduced their imports of US wet blue by 31%, in terms of value. A positive trend in other countries, such as Vietnam and India (+46% and +4% respectively, in terms of value), partly offset the market downturn. Looking at figures, at the end of the year exports of US wet blue leather were decreasing by 20% (overall revenues amounted to 391.4 million dollars) and dropped by 23% in terms of volumes.
US leather industry fears Coronavirus now
Leather global market is dealing with a complicated scenario: obviously, the Trade War between Trump’s government and China did not help. As remarked by LHCA, China has imposed a 5% duty on the imports of several bovine hides’ categories; on the other hand, the United States have imposed a 25% customs duty on some leather finished products, made in China, exported towards the USA. In addition, the Coronavirus pandemic now. “Due to Covid-19, leather industry is under pressure; besides that, the virus outbreak is heavily hindering trade relations – remarked LHCA –, especially with Asia, but also with other Asian partners and Europe as well”.
“It is difficult to predict the real economic impact of the current pandemic: for sure, it is going to be considerable. One of its early effects is a shortage of labour in the harbours and in the overseas manufacturing, worsened by a slowdown of retail sales in the United States and on a worldwide scale”. LHCA realize it is not only an international problem, but also a domestic issue: “The spreading of infection in the United States, along with a few restriction measures, cause companies, working in the industry, to slow down. Right now, activities are still feasible, but the situation might change rapidly”.