Turkish leather garment producers reported few buyers at Mosleather, held 3-6 July 2002 in Moscow. This is an event that clothing makers put much effort into and they anticipated buoyant results.

The problem? Turkish Customs, Exporters’ Unions and the Turkish Leather Garment Producers’ Association have been trying for two years to plug tax and import-duty loopholes in the thriving cross-border garment trade between Russia and Türkiye.

Tougher, new laws to regulate this trade were to be announced at the beginning of July but markets were destabilised by the declining health of Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit. The ruling coalition government has, in fact, been unable to pass many laws or give them enforceable status. It was these uncertainties that caused Russian buyers to hold off with orders at a critical time.

Indecision and economic vacuums have fostered favourable platforms for quasi-legal trading. Türkiye’s untaxed leather garment exports registered about $1.2 billion in 2001: legitimate, documented garment exports were half of this at $600 million.

Experienced firms know that exporting legally brings tax advantages, but smaller, fledgling firms are not yet convinced – and it was mainly these who were disappointed at Mosleather.

With Türkiye’s parliament now in recess and constitutional changes unresolved, local producers were worried about the outcome of another leather event, ‘Le Show,’ scheduled for July 24-26, also in Moscow.