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Thai leather makers gain ground as tanners quit China
2018/5/23 16:35:21 Source: / Author: 点击率:

BANGKOK -- Thailand's tanners and leather goods makers are expanding production, fueled by greater demand in Asia and the Middle East and tougher environmental standards in China that have put competitors at a disadvantage.

"We plan to boost production as early as this month," said Suwatchai Wongcharoensin, chairman of Creative Performance Leather, a tanner in Samutprakarn Province near Bangkok.

The company is investing 120 million baht ($3.79 million) to expand production lines at its Samutprakarn tannery. Output will increase 40% to 325,000 sq. meters per month.

CPL supplies tanned leather for shoes and bags to such big-name apparel makers as Nike, Adidas and Lacoste. The company mainly deals with cowhides but is improving a facility for pigskins that opened about two years ago.

"Increased output of pigskin will be supplied to Australia's top shoe brands," said Wongcharoensin.

Leather goods makers are also expanding production. Interhides, which manufactures leather car seats, invested 450 million baht in a tannery that opened last month and will gradually raise its annual output to process 4 million hides from 1 million as early as next year.

Local leather furniture maker Teamfurn also said it will build a factory in the eastern province of Chonburi this year. The company will not only strengthen exports to markets like China but also cultivate the domestic market by opening small stores in regional cities.

"A part of the leather industry is shifting from China to Thailand," said the Japan External Trade Organization's Bangkok office. Thai customs data shows the shift is especially apparent in tanning as hide imports rose 7% to 24.1 billion baht last year.

The tanning and dyeing process for natural leather often uses heavy metals like hexavalent chromium that are harmful to the environment. Tighter pollution regulations are making it more difficult to produce leather in some countries, including China.

"Demand for Thai tanners is rising after China tightened effluent standards for agents used during the process," said the Thai Tanning Industry Association.

Low prices have helped emerging Asia's leather industry grow. The market continues to expand as Asia and the Middle East drive up demand. British research firm Technavio predicts the global market for leather products to grow 5% annually through 2021.

But challenges are also rising as animal rights groups, mainly in the U.S. and Europe, object to leather and synthetic alternatives become more widely available. Environmental issues are also becoming a greater concern in both advanced and emerging nations.

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