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WTO Round (DDA)

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COTANCE Position Statement on the WTO trade round (DDA)
COTANCE Council meeting - Bologna, 20 April 2006

Meeting in Bologna for the COTANCE Spring Council, the representatives of Italy (UNIC), Spain (CEC-FECUR), Germany (VDL), France (FFTM), Sweden (SG), United Kingdom (UK Leather Federation), Netherlands (FNL), Belgium (UNITAN) and Hungary (BCE) reviewed the progress in the current WTO trade negotiations and expressed concern over the risks that the DDA may not yield the expected benefits for the Leather trade & industry.

They call on the sector’s global stakeholders to value the merits of a sectoral trade deal based on the principles conveyed in their COTANCE 2001 Position and to request their Governments to hammer out in Geneva negotiating modalities that can implement them.

World trade in the leather sector represents US$ 46 billion ranking among the most important internationally traded commodities .

Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers on imports and exports of the sector’s products constitute an enormous cost handicap for the Leather industry worldwide, consuming resources that could be better allocated in increasing wealth in the Leather industry. They distort adversely global trade flows and interfere critically in the pricing of supplies causing irreparable damage to the Leather industry’s structures in rich and poor nations.

 

An ambitious tariff liberalisation coupled with an end to export taxes/restrictions on raw materials and intermediate products in mature and emerging markets would bring huge benefits to the leather trade & industry in both developed and developing countries. It would avoid preference erosion for least developed countries as well as provide them a real opportunity to grow.

The European Leather Industry plays a key role in the Global Leather System notably for its leadership in innovation and market development. It has lost 30% of its companies and workforce over the last decade due notably to unfair competition from countries maintaining protectionist barriers preventing access to their markets or excluding their raw material markets from international competition with export taxes/restrictions. Such protectionism equally harms the inclusion in international trade of countries with a less developed leather industry.

Failure to achieve in this WTO Round a firm commitment of trade partners to open up their markets to international competition and to eliminate export taxes/restrictions on raw materials would have significant consequences in the EU leather value chain, its companies and its workforce as well as on the sustainable development of industrial know-how, environmental liability, innovation and R&D that Europe develops benefiting the global leather industry.

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1 Source: FAO, World Trade in
- Hides, Skins, Leather & Footwear US $ 46 billion
- Meat US $ 17 billion
- Sugar US $ 10 billion
- Cotton US $ 7 billion