The Ho Chi Minh City government has pledged technical support for a local company to proceed with their project to build the city’s first crocodile skin tannery. The city government will invest in the manufacturing of machines used for crocodile tanning and then transfer the machines to Ton Phat Crocodile Co, said Nguyen Thien Nhan, vice chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee, at a meeting with Ton Phat Co in December.

Such machines will also be available to other companies with similar projects, Nhan said. The city’s investment is seen as a measure to help companies cope with financial difficulties since an Italian line of machinery used for crocodile tanning is estimated to cost up to 17 billion VND, reported Tuoi Tre newspaper.

Ton Phat Co have faced a shortage of capital to carry out the project although the city government agreed to give the company financial aid to pay off interest from bank loans in mid-2004.

Four companies in HCMC, including Ton Phat Co, and a company in another province, are licensed to export crocodiles and related products. The other three HCMC companies are Hoa Ca Crocodile Co, Suoi Tien Tourism Co and Saigon Forestry Co.

CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) has granted the four HCMC companies with quotas to export 16,000 crocodiles and skin products this year, reported Tuoi Tre. The export price of a crocodile skin set is about US$300 while crocodile meat can sell for US$10 per kg.