ICT Doctrine on Freedom of Trade

The International Council of Tanners aims at the orderly development of world leather production so as to achieve maximum added value in every country through the greatest possible freedom of trade based upon truly competitive principles. In principle the ICT is opposed to protectionism but recognises that countries which are building up industries based upon their material resources may need to give these industries special protection and/or incentives. Such protection and incentives will distort the normal pattern of competition and therefore must be limited in duration. The ICT is opposed to any increase in protectionism and urges its members to fight against added protectionism nationally, regionally and internationally. It accepts, however, that a limited degree of protection generally may be the only practicable target and therefore its members should act in the spirit of the ICT Doctrine, should actively undertake to reduce protection progressively as far as practicable and should oppose new controls.

The International Council of Tanners accepts that
all tanners should have the maximum unrestricted access to their primary product and that therefore no country should protect the totality of its primary resources;
there should be the maximum unrestricted access to leather markets and that therefore duties and non-tariff barriers on leather imports should be progressively reduced and eventually abolished on a similar proportion of the market as in i);
there should be maximum unrestricted access to leather product markets and duties and non-tariff barriers on imports of leather products should be progressively reduced and eventually abolished to the same extent as in i) and ii);
that hides and skins supply is generally dependent upon meat production and that therefore an increase in meat production and trade will lead to greater hide and skin availability.

To avoid the imbalances caused by protectionism policies by both developed and developing countries, the ICT agrees that ground rules are necessary to achieve this healthy and fair international trade development. Such ground rules should be established in a two-part but not necessarily simultaneous programme of progressive removal of restrictions on access to markets at all stages and of progressive removal of export and import duties. the ICT therefore resolves that member countries should
allow access to at least 15% of their market by 1984 or sooner and to at least 25% by the end of 1989 or sooner (export percentage should be based on fair average production and import percentage on fair average consumption;
progressively remove export or import duties on the percentages in A) over the next ten years or sooner.

The ICT will inform governments of member countries of this Doctrine directly and member associations will make similar approaches to their own governments.

June 1981

ICT has lobbied hard for freedom of trade within the hide, skin, and leather sector. Together with ICHSLTA, a joint statement was issued in June 1996:


It is now 15 years since the International Council of Tanners published its original statement on orderly development of world leather production. This was followed, in 1983, by a joint policy statement on over-capacity endorsed by ICT and the International Council On Hide, Skin and Leather Traders Associations. In 1992 ICHSLTA reiterated its call for immediate moves towards elimination of all existing barriers to a free and fair trade in hides, skins, and leather.

At their Council meetings held in Hong Kong during April 1996, both organisations repeated their pleas for all governments to remove quotas and restrictions from both import and export trade in this sector, namely, items covered by Chapter 41 of the World Customs Organisation. Similarly, export and import taxes on the Chapter 41 commodities, which distorts trade, should be removed, or, at least, reduced to nominal levels.

Over a 15 year period comparable to that since the ICT doctrine was first issued, world trade in untanned hides and skins has risen 18% by volume and 60% by value, to be worth USD 4.3 billion annually. Similarly, trade in leather has increased 140% by volume and 240% by value, to USD 9.5 billion annually.

However, as a report by the UN`s Food and Agriculture Organisation has stated:

"Trade barriers have reduced trade in the sector by as much as USD 2.5 billion annually"

FAO's intergovernmental forum on Hides & Skins also:

"considers it important to continue its efforts to raise awareness of the damage caused to world trade by these restrictions, and to encourage reduction of these barriers in the long term".

ICT and ICHSLTA concur with this view but consider that trade restrictions have an equally adverse effect on Developed and Developing Countries, two of which are now to be counted among the world`s largest leather producers. Thus the impetus for product improvement for the benefit of the consumer will, we believe, be best served by the immediate removal of all impediments on free and fair trade in this sector, whether they be subsidies, export licencing regimes, import/export quotas or taxes of all types.

ICT, Leather Trade House, Kings Park Road, Moulton Park, Northampton, NN3 6JD, UK

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