There were reports of Chinese business being virtually paralysed by government measures to ensure that all went well during the Games. Now things should get back to normal, or whatever passes as normal these days.
There would appear to be a global recession brought about by the greed of those who knowingly lent money to people with very low credit ratings. This is a double tragedy because the people at the heart of the mess had what little chance they had of repaying made more difficult by the higher interest rates being charged and are now presumably homeless.
On a brighter note, despite worldwide difficulties, ECCO went ahead and built their tannery in Xiamen, China. After the conclusion of the ACLE they invited 450 guests to their official opening of phase one of the development. It was a very colourful occasion with dragons, drums, cannons, fireworks and masses of flowers. Chinese traditions made for a very visual display.
The tannery is very impressive and built with all the design style that Scandinavia can muster. Not all the technology was in place but they were hoping to start production around five weeks later.
There are still plans in the pipeline for the construction of a beamhouse but until then they will process from wet-blue. The status of beamhouses in China is still uncertain even though studying the monthly exports of US hides to China has not so far indicated a huge swing from raw to wet-blue.
The underlying feeling is that China would like to discourage raw processing and leave that to other countries. Naturally if ECCO proceed they will have provision for the most advanced waste treatment facilities. Xiamen, where they are located, is said to be the cleanest Chinese city. In the speeches, the local dignitaries spoke glowingly about the high level of taxes being contributed by ECCO to the well-being of the local area.
Sadly, not all news about modern tanning in China is good. The once famed G4 tannery used to be held as an example of an excellent tannery. They built a new beamhouse a few years back but then closed it. The latest reports say the whole tannery has closed and the owners are looking to possibly relocate but have not found anywhere suitable to date.
Other tannery closures being spoken of are two in Uganda, one Chinese owned. While still operating, the Chinese company were reported to be buying up all the hides they could find, pushing up prices all round the region. Their withdrawal from the market has so far not affected the price of East African hides but whether or not this situation will continue has yet to be seen.
I had expected to travel to Paris by Eurostar this week to attend Le Cuir A Paris. Sadly the fire in the Channel Tunnel has meant this will not be possible. Alternative travel by air has not proved possible due to lack of availability and the very high prices being charged. I wish the organisers every success with their show and I am sorry I was not able to be there.
A clashing event not affected by Eurostar was the opening of the extension to the Stahl leather technical centre at their European headquarters in Waalwijk in the Netherlands. Their aim is to provide even better and faster service to their automotive customers.
As Leather International was going to press we heard that fifteen of the 27 European member states had voted against continuing anti-dumping duties on imported leather footwear from Vietnam and China. This will have a huge impact on footwear producing countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal and one wonders how they will manage to cope with the latest blow to their commercial viability.
Shelagh Davy