Kenya plans to remove import duty on raw leather in order to boost the sector, officials said on Monday.
Yassin Awale, Leather Sector Advisor of Ministry of Industry, told Xinhua in Nairobi that the move will encourage the sourcing of high quality hides and skins for the global market.
“We will soon introduce tax incentives in order to assist the local leather sector to expand,” Awale said, adding that currently there is an import duty of 25 percent hides and skins.
He said that despite Kenya having a large population of cattle which is a source of leather, the country is heavily dependent on imports.
“Poor handling of the hides and skins has resulted in poor quality finished products which can’t compete in the international market,” he added.
Data from the Ministry of Trade indicates that the East African nation produces only 8 million pairs of shoes annually against a demand of 40 million pairs.
Awale said that most of imports consist of secondhand shoes from developed countries.
The leather sector advisor said most of Kenya’s hides and skins are exported and this has hampered local value addition.
He added that Kenya will enforce strict standards on imports of secondhand shoes in order to protect local shoe industry.
The ministry has already developed a national strategy to revive the sector that was vibrant in the early 1990s.
Awale said that liberalization of the leather industry lead to an influx of cheap imports from low cost producing nations. Enditem