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Hides and skins and leather

Main policy areas



  • Hides and skins and leather are not covered under the AoA, although the AoA has indirect implications for the sector through its implications for meat and dairy policies. These products and leather are covered under the general provisions of the GATT.


  • No import tariffs are applied to raw hides and skins;
  • Tariff escalation is an issue for leather and leather products as import tariffs vary according the level of processing; i.e. finished leather, leather bags, leather shoes etc. carry high tariffs in some countries. In developed countries the weighted average is about 5 percent for leather, 8 percent for leather products and as high as 80 percent for leather footwear. Quotas are occasionally introduced.

Export subsidies

  • Direct export subsidies/refunds are hardly used in the sector.

Export restrictions and prohibitions

  • Export prohibitions, export taxes and combinations are used in a number of developing countries;
  • Restrictions on export of raw hides and skin, wet blue and crust, are typically imposed in order to assist the development of the domestic tanning and leather manufacturing industries. By increasing domestic supply within the country local tanneries have lower cost, investment in processing and manufacturing becomes more profitable. However the lower prices reduce the incentive to supply good quality material.

Food security

  • Provides income for processors and is a source of employment in tanning and manufacturing.

Environmental measures

  • Tanning industry can be highly polluting;
  • The cost of meeting environmental standards is one reason for shift of activity from developed to developing countries;
  • Discussion of a proposal for an industry-wide international ecolabelling scheme has not borne fruit.

Rural development

  • Important.

Safeguard measures

  • Limited.

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