Confusion for Fujian tanners2 November 2009
Indecision by local government politicians, environment agencies and low-level civil unrest among farmers are causing confusion among tanners in the Fujian province tanning districts. One tanner we contacted was hoping to complete construction of a new tannery in a new Zhangpu tanning zone in the province.
‘We are a very confused at the moment with this new leather industrial zone. The Fujian government have suddenly announced that they are ‘not preferring’ to develop this special zone and have asked to hold all construction until the further notice. We do not know where the final result will end up’, they told Leather International. ‘We may have to call off the whole thing’, they added.
It appears that a dispute erupted after an illegal drain for untreated wastewater in another area of Fujian caused the local EPA to put a halt to the new tanning zone.
In the meantime many established Fujian tanneries have either reduced their production by half or have stopped completely.
The tightening up of EPA's activities seems to be the major concern among the Chinese tanners. The five-year-old Fujian Quangang Tanning Centre was shut down for one month (where four hide and seven split tanners are located) due to inadequate effluent treatment. This was achieved by cutting off the water supply. An estimated 10,000 farmers protested and the deputy commissar was held hostage until 2,000 police were sent in to get him released. There was no violence reported!
According to theSauerReport.com rumour has it that the Fujian Provincial government might substantially reduce the number of tanneries allowed at the new tanning centre at Zhangpu. There are 31 new tanneries already under construction, among 63 who bought the land (some could be land speculators as land values have doubled in the past three years). Among the 31 under construction, only eleven have EPA approval for the project. The other twenty do not know what fate is awaiting them.
Meanwhile in the old Fujian Kemu tanning centre many are limited to run at up to 75% capacity. There are two more tanning centres to be built, one in Lianing province and another one in Guanxi province. The new Zhangpu tanning zone is intended to replace Kemu Tanning Centre, which was originally out of town, has in recent years been swallowed up by large real estate developments.
The Fujian tanners are currently very confused and discouraged and have been forced to undertake contract wet-blueing in Guangdong province. Meanwhile, reports of re-sales of US hides destined for Fujian province have been reported. There were a few stories of sales at lower levels, it is understood that more hides are being re-sold at or very close to current prices.