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APLF Leather Fair In Hong Kong Tackles The Issues

HONG KONG, April 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Materials, Manufacturing & Technology ( MM&T) saw a high quality buyer turnout during its run at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center last March 25 to 27.

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There were 18,467 buyers in attendance, registering a slight decrease from some countries, as many traditional markets from Europe, North America, even China, are still reeling from the ill effects of the economic crisis. Taking up the slack, however, were new Asian markets including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and India, that are enjoying growth in their GDPs and a surge in consumer spending. Also registering a substantial rise in buyer numbers were Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland and Finland.

There was lot of activities on the floor during the 3 days of the fair, keeping the 1,193 exhibitors from 53 countries and regions busy throughout.  Exhibitor Juri Beloussov of Skivers Hides AS in Estonia said, "Because of the difficult situation in the market, people need to get out to look for opportunities, and maybe better goods with less cost. I don't mind traveling to exhibitions like this, because it gives me a great chance to do business."

There were also "returning" exhibitors like leather chemical innovation giants Stahl and Fenice who, after concentrating their marketing efforts in mainland China, are back in Hong Kong in order to reach potential markets in the rest of Asia.

MM&T, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2014, has become an important forum for the hides and leather sectors to discuss various industry issues and concerns. The rising prices of hides is always a hot topic. Robert Hein of National Beef noted, "The packers and hide traders incur additional costs every year due to government regulations on anything from how meat should be packed to the bugs and pests that have to be controlled." The drought that has hit the US for some time now also has impacted on the number of cattle. Hein added, "The US industry is under pressure and it is not until 2014 to 2015, even 2017, that numbers are expected to be restored."

In China, some 300 small-scale tanners have been forced to shut down in the last year as they have been unable to comply with the government's strict environmental regulations.  Mr. Su Chaoying, chairman of CLIA, remarked, "In the Guangzhou area alone, 120 small tanneries have closed, but their production have been absorbed by operational medium-sized tanneries, so volumes have not seen a major reduction."

Two new activities, Sourcing Luxury and the Leather Forum; "Designing with Leather", met with enthusiastic approval. Sourcing Luxury succeeded in highlighting the growing trend for luxury goods and many visitors lauded the outstanding exhibits. The Leather Forum, on the other hand, exceeded expectations in terms of attendance. Developed for the purpose of introducing leather as a material to designers, topics included leather basics, leather trends, sustainability and innovations. Bigger versions of these two events are expected for MM&T in March 2014.

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