The U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association (USHSLA) is the only organization that specifically focuses on the issues and concerns of the U.S. hide and skin industry. USHSLA believes in free trade and is a strong supporter of the WTO process and free trade agreements negotiated by the United States with its trading partners.
Ninety six percent of the world's population resides outside of the United States and similarly, most of the world's users of U.S. hides are located overseas. The U.S. domestic tanning industry capacity continues to decline while foreign demand continues to build in developing countries. The United States is the world's largest exporter of hides, so trade is critical to the prosperity of the U.S. hide industry. It is for this reason that it is essential that U.S. hide exporters continue to gain access to foreign markets. New and expanded market access through trade agreements is the most important catalyst for increased hide exports.
In 2011, export value for U.S. hides and skins reached $1.7 billion for hides and $662 million for wet blues. China/Hong Kong continues to grow and accounts for 46 percent of U.S. hide exports. In 2002, U.S. hide exports to China/Hong Kong only accounted for 31 percent of total hide exports.
South Korea continues to be the second largest market for U.S. hides, importing $287 million of bovine hides and $10 million of wet blues in 2011. However, South Korea's imports of U.S. hides have steadily declined, accounting for 16 percent of U.S. hide exports in 2011 compared to 27 percent in 2002.
Ninety-nine percent of all bovine hide exports go to seven countries (China/Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy, Vietnam, Mexico and Japan).
In spite of increased trade, we do experience trade irritants from time to time. Whenever hide exporters experience difficulties in clearing shipments through customs or encounter requests for changes in export certificate requirements, USHSLA members should notify the USHSLA as soon as possible. USHSLA will work with the relevant US government agencies to address the problem.
US hide exporters should also contact the U.S. Embassy's agricultural attache in the country in which they have a problem and ask for their assistance. The agricultural attaches are employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and are stationed overseas to assist U.S. exporters in gaining market access. You should provide them with as much information as possible in order for them to get your container released. They can also provide you with contacts to make within the foreign government, relevant information on changing health requirements, or other valuable information about the market. For a full list of agricultural attaches stationed overseas, go to http://www.fas.usda.gov/scriptsw/fasfield/ovs_directory_search.asp. If you have difficulty finding the information or getting assistance, contact USHSLA.
US hides and skins suppliers, as agricultural commodity exporters, experience unique problems related to shipping that are also experienced by many commodity exporters. Therefore, USHSLA and its member companies are active participants in the Agricultural Transportation Coalition, a group dedicated to addressing the specific needs of the US agricultural community as it relates to international shipping. USHSLA encourages its member companies to consider joining the AgTC for the most up to date information on this issue.
To access an application for membership to the AgTC, please click on this link: