A joint statement for the elimination of export taxes and export restrictions on raw hides and skins and wet-blue and harmonisation of import duties for leather on a global basis has been issued by Confederation of National Associations of Tanners and Dressers of the European Community (Cotance), Leather Industries of America, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America and the American Apparel and Footwear Association:

‘The European and United States leather industries represented by their respective trade associations and related industries, jointly declare their opposition to trade distorting export taxes and export restrictions on hides, skins and wet-blue leathers that are proliferating and causing significant damage to international trade in the sectors.

‘They also declare that their interest is to achieve the elimination of tariff peaks and high import duties for leather on a global basis through the harmonisation and eventual elimination of import barriers that have equally significant trade distorting and trade deviating effects to the detriment of the sustainable development of the trade and industry.

‘They call on their respective Governments to pursue the rapid elimination of all export and import barriers in bi-lateral and multilateral negotiations that are opened with other trade partners in order to establish free and fair trading conditions for the industry’s products on a global basis.

‘They claim that export taxes and export restrictions provide leather industry operators in markets implementing them an unfair comparative advantage, distorting competition to the disadvantage of operators in open markets. These unfair trade measures exacerbate price competition, pushing global leather prices below commercially sustainable levels and increasingly driving operators in developed and developing countries out of business.

‘They understand that the maintenance of tariff peaks and high import duties for leather by a large number of trade partners constitutes a threat to the development of leather markets and of a competitive leather industry.

‘The signatories of this joint statement understand that it is high time that the international trading community delivers to the leather industry a harmonized set of rules governing the trade of leather by bringing down import duties to almost uniform levels and eliminating all export restricting measures, except for public health and safety reasons.

The statement was signed by Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano, Cotance secretary general; John L Wittenborn, LIA president; Peter Mangione, FDRA president; and Kevin M Burke, president & CEO of AAFA.