Leather footwear exports to Europe drop

6 August 2007

There has been much speculation about the volume of Chinese exports in 2006 which has led to the revision of statistics on leather footwear by the Chinese government. While both Chinese imports and exports of leather and leather products have increased overall, exports of leather footwear to the European Union decreased dramatically in the last four months of 2006. According to the China National Bureau, among enterprises whose annual sales revenue is over US$640,000, the output of light leather and footwear was 720 million sq m and 3 billion pairs, up 29% and 14% respectively over the previous year. For leather garments the figure was 66 million pieces, up 3% and leather bags at 550 million pieces showed an increase of 6% compared with last year. In 2006, China leather industries exports amounted to US$39 billion, up 9% over the previous year while the export growth rate in terms of value decreased by 11.5%. Included in this export figure was footwear with leather uppers, which amounted to US$8.8 billion, an increase of 8.8% but the growth rate decreased by 19%. The export of footwear in 2006 was 7.7 billion pairs by quantity with an export value of US$21 billion (up 10.7% and 14% respectively); the growth rate was down 6.8% and 12% respectively. Exports of leather shoes reached 1.4 billion pairs, accounting for 18% of total footwear export by quantity and that of other kinds of shoes 6.3 billion pairs, accounting for 82% of total by quantity. The Chinese government has revised its statistics of leather footwear exports to the European Union. Initially, figures released in April stated that sales of Chinese leather footwear to Europe reached 123.4 million pairs, an increase of 3.2% on the 119.5 pairs exported in 2005. This amounts to a marked decline as previous year on year growth had been between 100 and 125%. In light of the fact that anti-dumping taxes were only applied fully from September, we can see that the collapse took place in the last four months of 2006. Between September and December, Chinese leather shoe exports to Europe fell 7,750,000 pairs from 40.6 million in 2005 to 32.95 million in 2006, an average decline of 20%. In terms of value, the fall represents US$41 million over the last four months, or 16%. Finished leather, which accounted for US$1.6 billion, showed an increase of 20%. In 2006, growth in China's imports of main leather industry items including leather shoes remained steady, with a total annual import value of US$7.7 billion, an increase of 14% on the previous year. Among the imports, hides accounted for US$1.4 billion, up 9%. Footwear imports reached US$279 million, representing a 30% growth. The top five sources of imports of semi-finished and finished leather by China were Italy (accounting for 12.7% of imports by value), Brazil (12.6%), followed by Taiwan (12.6%), South Korea (12.2%) and USA (5.7%). The top five supplying countries for raw hides were the United States (56.8% by value), followed by Austria (18.4%), Canada (6.9%), Germany (2.4%) and Belgium (2.3%).

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