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    Tunis Showcases African Leather Industry


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2002

    Meet in Africa, the most important trade event for the African leather industry, brings together the African and international leather sectors. The event gives African entrepreneurs greater access to regional and overseas market opportunities. At the same time, it shows international buyers the potential of the African leather sector.

    During the third Meet in Africa (Tunis, October 2002), African firms exhibited their products during a trade fair, conducted business negotiations with other African and international business people and exchanged views on priority issues for developing the African leather sector.

    Increasing trade for Africa

    A goal of the meeting was to contribute to expanding intra-African trade, especially between small and medium-sized enterprises. Participants reported business deals resulting from over 480 bilateral meetings between 260 buyers and sellers. Seminars on improving production and marketing skills, and on transfers of technology and know-how also helped to increase African firms' competitiveness.

    The high-quality products at the trade fair, from raw materials to finished leather goods, helped enhance the image of African leather and leather products.

    Greater intra-African cooperation

    The meeting also attracted leather industry trade support institutions, such as national and regional associations and training centres. The African Federation of Leather and Allied Industries (AFLAI) held its general assembly during the event, with participants from five African regions. They reported on their activities and discussed the African situation with regard to globalization, professional training, intra-African communication facilities and establishing a strategy to develop the leather sector on a country and regional level.

    Greater cooperation among the African leather institutions was evident in their exchanges of programmes and training curricula during seminars.

    The meeting helps to develop multilateral cooperation, too. For example, ITC organized an expert group meeting in collaboration with the Common Fund for Commodities, Food and Agriculture Organization, UN Industrial Development Organization and the Italian association of machinery manfactures for the leather industry (ASSOMAC). Participants discussed topics ranging from benchmarking the African leather sector to the impact of environment protection measures and quality management.

    The Tunisian Prime Minister, Mr. Mohammed Ghannouchi, inaugurated the event, which drew the largest number of participants yet: 367 exhibitors from 38 countries; 2,200 professional visitors; and over 300 participants in seminars and the expert group meeting.

    AFLAI participants proposed that Addis Ababa should host the next meeting, in 2004.

    ITC, the Semaine Internationale du Cuir group and AFLAI organized the event, with the support of the Centre for Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries of the Netherlands.