Since October 6th, 2022, it has become illegal to import leather from Russia and Belarus. The 8th commercial sanctions package by the EU includes tanning products too, finished and semi-finished. A ban that comes at a time when the relationships between Italian companies and those in Moscow (and Minsk) are already deteriorated.
Leather from Russia
The veto on imports comes when the trade fluxes with Russia are at a minimum. As reads a report by UNIC – Italian Tanneries, during the last 4 years the average import of raw hides and semi-finished products from Moscow was less than 1,300 tons per year. The country is worth just 0.2% of all imported hides by Italy. The one reason for sadness is that the flow seemed to be increasing in the first 5 months of 2022 (+32% on 2021 and +1% on 2019). As expected, Italian exports to Russia are also not performing well. UNIC’s data shows that revenue generated on average during the period 2017-2021 was just below 9 million euro, with a partially decreasing trend on 2022 (-41% on 2021 and -53% on 2019).
Let’s say that belarus, a friendly market for Russia in war matters in the last year, it’s not a very significant partner when it comes to trade tanning products with Italy. The relations focus “mostly on the sourcing of raw material for Italian tanneries”, writes UNIC. Between 2017 and 2021 the purchases of raw hides and semi-finished leather reached 1,800 tons per year. During the first 5 months of 2022 they were down 59% on yearly base, but up 45% compared to the same period of 2019. Italian tanning exports to Belarus are worth less than 1 million euro a year.
The value of Ukraine
Since we are discussing Eastern Europe and the consequences of the war in Ukraine launched by the Kremlin on February 24th, it’s worth mentioning that Ukraine is the most important commercial partner for Italy in the area. Specifically, when it comes to raw material imports, as “Ukraine is the 20th supplier at global level (7th for semi-finished, with a 3% quota)”. Taking the last 5 years in consideration, Italian imports accounted for 10,000 tons of material exported by Ukraine, with most being semi-finished (93%). This is also caused by the duty on raw hides, “valid until 2012 and slowly decreasing until 2023”, states UNIC.
During the first 5 months of 2022 the import of raw material was down 24% on 2021 and -24% compared to the last pre-pandemic year. Ukraine is the main partner for Italian tanneries also as far as finished leather exports go, in the area. The average Italian export for tanned leather during the 2017-2021 period was worth 11 million euro, but in 2022 (5 months period) the decrease is substantial: -30% on 2021 and -55% on 2019.
In photo (from our archive) the inside of Ostashkov tannery