BULAWAYO, Sept 3 (The Source)—Zimbabwe’s exports of leather products declined by 37 percent, with earnings falling to $374,000 last year due to depressed economic activity in the cattle-rich southern region of the country, trade promotion agency ZimTrade has said.
The country still largely exports raw hides. In 2011, the industry exported 5,4 million kg of hides and skins worth $28,2 million while in 2012, over 5,5 million kg worth $29,2million were exported.
The figures include the export of crocodile, zebra, hippo and buffalo hides.
The government last year introduced a $0,75 levy tax on exports of raw hides in a move that was expected to boost value addition in the leather industry as well as curtail the exportation of raw hides by local abattoirs.
Zimbabwe exported $374,000 worth of leather products in 2014 compared to $591,000 and $486,000 in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
“Since 2012, Zimbabwe’s exports of leather products have been declining,” said ZimTrade.
“These export figures are very low compared to the potential that exists in the global leather industry.”
ZimTrade urged small to medium enterprises in the leather sector to form clusters in order to make headway global leather goods market estimated at $100 billion.
Zimbabwe’s leather industry is currently operating at about 25 percent of its capacity despite market opportunities in the country, in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region and abroad, according to industry experts.