Leather makers expect boost

15 October 2001

The domestic leather industry hopes to become a world player in the next 10 to 15 years. The country is recognised as a large leather product maker but is not known for high-quality and famous brand products, said Zhang Shu Hua, deputy chairwoman of the China Leather Industry Association. About 16,000 leather enterprises in China employ two million workers and can produce 2.2 billion pairs of leather shoes and 62 million leather garments each year. Last year, the country exported US$11.7 billion worth of leather products, up 20% over 1999. This shows that cheap labour costs are key to China's leather industry. 'The association will help the industry focus more on quality, profit and brand', she said. China's leather exports are among the cheapest in the world. The average price for leather shoes stands at between US$6 and US$8. Leather garments cost only US$40, far less than the thousands of US dollars that globally famous brands fetch. 'The domestic leather manufacturers should attach great importance to achieving better prices through fashionable designs and advanced technologies even though it may lead to smaller output', Madam Zhang said. 'It is impossible to achieve fat profits by large production and cost-savings.'

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