There's certainly an air of uncertainty surrounding this year's ACLE, not least of which has to do with the impending airspace lockdown beginning Thursday in accordance with the national three-day holiday. As a result, buyers and exhibitors are scrambling to see if their flights are still scheduled as planned, and if they can make it to Milan next week.
But back here on the ground in Shanghai, market uncertainty is a prevailing discussion, despite impressive foot traffic and buoyant optimism. And while deals might not be closing at a high rate, and immediate concerns surround Chinese market volatility, Su Chaoying, chairman of the China Leather Industry Association (CLIA), says that leather has maintained steady growth in H1 despite growth rates slowing from last year, and that the current climate is a question of riding out temporary setbacks. It's a matter of maintaining a big-picture perspective. "Things will recover," is overheard a lot. It's just a question of when, not if.
What this turbulent period has revealed is a growing and equally worrying trend of Chinese tanners not adhering to contracts. We spoke in depth with Tyson's Mike Larson about this in the August issue of Leather International, and while in China, he has visited a lot of customers to make his - and the industry's - feelings crystal clear. There is a mutual benefit and reliance between China and the US, so it's certainly a red-button issue here.
But while there is plenty to be concerned about, there is plenty of other opportunities to seize - Brazil's devaluation of 35%, for instance - so the overall mood is upbeat going into day two. Relatively speaking, even though slaughter rates are down due to drought, and supplies reflect that, there is reason to be upbeat.