Hazer outlines ICT strategy11 January 2010
In an exclusive interview with Leather International Bülent Hazer, president of the International Council of Tanners (ICT), outlines his strategy to take the organisation forward.
1 Leather International: Please explain a little about yourself and how you came to be president of the ICT.
Bülent Hazer: I have been the Turkish Leather Association representative on the ICT council for a number of years because of my wide international experience in the tanning industry. I was nominated ICT vice president by the then incoming president, Mike Parsons in 2006, and took over as president in 2008.
2 LI: Some important tanning countries are not members of ICT such as Italy and Spain. How are you going to attract those countries back into the ICT and gain new members?
BH: Both I and the ICT secretary (Paul Pearson) have a good relationship with the general secretary of Cotance; we already collaborate on a number of topics, including rules for the correct designation and labelling of leather and leather products and we are actively discussing further ways in which we can work together.
3 LI: Many in the industry say that the international hide, skin and tanned, crust and finished leather trading contracts are not legally enforceable. Both
buyers and sellers regularly ignore them and some feel that they should be scrapped and replaced with a code of conduct or guidelines instead. What is the ICT’s position on this and what do you intend to do in the future as you do not have the legal power to enforce them?
BH: I believe that the international contracts give a basis for orderly trade in the sector. They also provide a basis for arbitration and, if necessary, legal action through the courts. I don’t see how a code of conduct or guidelines could be any stronger than a system based on contracts.
However, unless the industry is prepared to follow the system and without a much bigger infrastructure, I think it is unrealistic to expect any system to resolve all commercial problems.
4 LI: Following on from question 3, many feel that the ICT is a powerless organisation and is unable to fight back against, for example, environmental and animal rights pressure groups such as Greenpeace and Peta etc. What do you say to your critics with regard to this?
BH: ICT is a forum to be used by its members. As an international organisation, it is difficult to become involved directly in commercial, competitive or national issues and we believe that the best way to defend the industry’s interests is to promote positive aspects of the industry, rather than become involved in arguments that exacerbate unjustified and negative publicity. We will always listen to suggestions of how we might do things better.
5 LI: How are you raising the profile of leather in the mind of the consumer on behalf of the member tanners?
BH: ICT doesn’t have the funds for generic advertising or PR, which is notoriously expensive, but we are working hard to promote correct labelling of leather and leather products through our code of practice for the labelling and designation of leather in upholstery and automotive applications, and we are aiming to have the same principles adopted as formal standards and legislation in Europe – which has already led the world in footwear labelling.
6 LI: Most leather today is made in Asia and the Americas, in particular in China, India and Brazil. Should those countries have more say in how the ICT is run?
BH: ICT is an open organisation. All members are entitled to attend meetings and to have their say. All member countries are entitled to put forward candidates for election as president. The next ICT president will come from Brazil.
7 LI: What do you think has been your greatest achievement since becoming ICT president?
BH: The biggest achievement in the last year has been the agreement of the new ICT code of practice for the labelling and designation of leather in upholstery and automotive applications, and the promotion of this as a basis for future legislation.
8 LI: How are you assisting member tanners’ associations meet their environmental obligations towards effluent treatment, recycling, reduced energy consumption and sustainable products and processes?
BH: One of the most important roles of ICT is to provide a forum for members to meet, to exchange views and information, and to share problems and solutions.
On environmental issues, one example is that the ICT secretary and the European members can make available to all members the work carried out on the European BREF – a reference document detailing ‘Best Available Techniques for the Tanning of Hides and Skins’.
9 LI: Is there any other information about the ICT that you feel would be of interest to the readers of Leather International?
BH: ICT is growing with new members from more countries such as Taiwan and Syria, and other countries are in discussion with us. Another important development is that when the ICT Council meets in November 2009 in Turkey we are aiming to set up a single commission to work on the ICHSLTA/ ICT International Contract numbers 6 and 7. This commission is then going to update the international contracts with the collaboration of the IULTCS and Cotance.
Bülent Hazer is managing director of Turkish leather chemical supplier, Pasam Kimya San located in Tuzla and Izmir. He is also the local representative of Schill + Seilacher in Turkey.