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Govt to ban used leather imports

NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 12 – The Ministry of Industrialisation is formulating policies to ban the importation of second-hand leather products to the country.

The ministry is also working on a policy that will ban exportation of raw hides as it seeks to develop and grow the local leather industry.

Industrialisation Assistant Minister Nderitu Muriithi said on Tuesday that the local leather sector faces immense competition as it lacks a sound platform for growth, which the ministry would like to develop and make it more competitive.

"Part of the challenges is the (low) tax levied on imported second-hand leather goods which makes local leather development very uncompetitive," Mr Muriithi said.

The Assistant Minister said once they are able to control the inflow of imported used leather products, it will give the ministry fresh impetus to invest more funds in growing the leather industry.

The Industrialisation Ministry has identified gaps that have worked to deny leather stakeholders critical income. The challenges range from poor hides and skin quality, low value addition services and lack of a government policy for the sub-sector.

"From a ministry point of view we believe the policy paper is sound and expect that it should be in place before the end of the year," Mr Muriithi said.

The leather sector generated Sh4.5 billion in earnings last year up from Sh3.15 billion in 2009. Mr Muriithi said such measures would ensure the industry is able to fully develop and become a key contributor to the country\’s Gross Domestic Product.

"The intermediate target is double that in the next five years to between Sh9 and Sh10 billion.  I however believe that this sector is worth in the ranges of Sh50 billion and has the ability to create thousands of jobs," he said.

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The world\’s total earnings from the leather industry currently stand at $75 billion out of which Africa has a share of $1.5 billion.

The government through the Ministry of Industrialisation plans to invest Sh1 billion in the sector to set up small tanneries in all counties where pastoralism is a major economic activity by the year 2013 to boost trading in hides and skins.

Mr Muriithi spoke during the launch of Livestock Development Council\’s (LDC) Strategic Plan 2011-2015.

LDC Chief Executive Officer Dr Mwinyikane Mwinyihija said the plan would help deepening the value addition chain of the leather sector to get the most out of the industry.

"We have defined the value addition chain and we know exactly where the constraints are and there we will move with greater urgency in making our hides and leather products more competitive," Dr Mwinyihija said.

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