federally inspected slaughter figures continued to improve in early December so that the annual rate was lagging only 1.4% behind a year earlier.

For the four-week period ended December 10, the average weekly kill was 598,500 head, against 574,750 a year earlier.

Current predictions are that the total slaughter in 2006 will exceed that of 2005.

At the end of the review period, the Chinese government finally announced their intention to revise the system of duty and VAT covering raw hides and wet-blue. However, the proposed changes in Chinese import/export regulations caused even more confusion and had no immediate effect on the market.

The public announcement by the National Development and Reform Commission provided a ‘notice of the measurements to control the export of a part of the high energy consuming, heavy pollution resources materials.’

With even the local Chinese industry finding the phraseology difficult to understand, it would appear that the hand book system which allows importing tanners to use a debit and credit system to avoid immediate payment of import taxes will be phased out from January 1.

If tanners are in possession of unused permits based on expected imports for the next six months, they will still be able to use them. No new ones will be issued once they have been used up.

The public statement also refers to the VAT requirements: ‘No VAT refund (13%) will be granted to the export of raw hides and skins, raw furs, wet-blue, pickled and crust in hides and skins’. None of this looks like good news for the raw hide trading sector.

Tyson Foods do not expect to see any significant benefit from Japan’s decision to ease the ban on US beef imports but hope that it might prompt an end to similar bans in South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

US raw hides sold for export in the four-week period to December 8 saw China again in pole position with 492,000, followed yet again by Korea with 253,700. Japan came third with 93,100. Hong Kong and Vietnam followed closely, both with 93,000. Taiwan took 59,200, then Mexico 58,000 and Italy 36,500. The Dominican Republic bought 14,000, Türkiye 7,300 and Thailand 7,000.

China and Korea were both reported as having taken up 1,219,000 and 83,200 respectively for delivery in 2006.

On the wet-blue front, the final week under review showed net sales for exports of wet-blue hides as a negative 100,600 as the government announced ‘sales were switched for delivery into 2006’.

Wet-blue splits were apportioned 3,366,100lb to China, 2,455,400lb to Hong Kong, 1,414,000lb to Italy, 17,730lb to Mexico and 9,000 to Indonesia.