As we were going to press, we heard that R-Calf, a US association of cattle breeders who have been receiving high prices for their calves since the Canadian border closed, have filed a motion to overturn USDA’s ruling over reopening the border on March 7. They claim it will cause irreparable harm to the US cattle industry if the proposals outlined by USDA are adhered to.

On the travel front, the start of 2005 has once more seen the leather industry take to the skies in a valiant attempt to visit all of the many overseas exhibitions which cover the globe. And there are plenty to choose from in January and February.

So far very little to excite has come out of these various exhibitions. Istanbul was described as dull and Pielespaña as subdued and much smaller in size than last year. Apparently there were no surprises at the Cologne furniture fair, the second most important in the world after Highpoint in the US. However, the shoe show Couromoda was judged a success.

As an indication of how business is transferring globally in one direction, it was reported that more and more doubleface traders from Europe were in evidence at the fur and leather products fair in China. By the same token, APLF opened the doors of their new venture Fashion First in Brussels.

With so many fairs being held in so many places at more or less the same times, we gave up trying to cover them all a long time ago. We try to be selective but do not pretend that we necessarily get it right. Our decision making is often based on how we can use an exhibition as a springboard to something else.

We were present in Barcelona and as a result you can read our Spanish survey which commences on page 28 of this issue. The Spanish leather industry has been experiencing very tough times. A representative of their footwear sector is quoted as saying 2004 was the worst year ever. Tanneries have closed and others are changing the way in which they operate.

We are also currently visiting the IILF in Chennai in India and expect to write about that country in our April edition. The India International Leather Fair is a long established event which does attract visitors from far afield. However, the main emphasis when it comes to international companies is that they wish to do business within India. The country has a vast leather manufacturing industry but cannot be self-sufficient in that their finished goods manufacturing capacity outstripped their ability to supply enough of their own finished leather a number of years ago.

At the end of February Anpic was due to be held in Mexico, followed by Le Cuir A Paris, from March 9-10. This will clash with the Congress of the IULTCS which will take place in Florence, from March 9-12. This biennial event is without doubt the most important scientific conference in the leather industry. Many of the best known people in the industry will attend and the quality of the technical papers being presented is expected to be high.

The International Union of Leather Technicians and Chemists Societies unites the world’s top research associations and the conferences, which are held every other year, are organised by the host country, in this instance Italy and the AICC (Associazione Italiana Dei Chimici del Cuoio). Since Italy still retains its reputation as the first class leather manufacturing country and Florence is a truly beautiful city, this should prove to be a very interesting event.

Leather International will be present in Florence, and at the third Upholstery Leather Conference and APLF in Hong Kong. Perhaps we will see you there.