World trade in the Leather Industry in 2014

February 8th, 2016

In a global market dominated by China, France shows good results and is still the world’s fourth largest exporter. 

The Economic Observatory of the Conseil National du Cuir (CNC) is publishing its 2014 report on World Trade in the Leather Industry*

France is the world’s fourth largest exporter, taking all sectors into account

In a difficult international context, France has managed to hold its fourth place in the list of leading exporters, taking the entire leather sector into account. Globally, over the last five years, France’s market share has remained stable and the country has produced excellent export performances in the raw leather and hides, leather goods and leather garments sectors. French creativity and savoir-faire continue to attract international consumers. France is the world’s third largest exporter of raw leathers and hides (after the United States and Australia), the third largest exporter of leather goods (after China and Italy) and the fifth largest exporter of leather clothing and accessories (after China, Italy, India and Pakistan). In the tannery and footwear sectors, France lies in 14th and 12th place, respectively.

China is the world leader but is losing market share 

Taking all sectors into account, China is still the world's leading exporter in the leather industry, ahead of Italy, Vietnam, France and India. Chinese exports represent 37.4% of total world exports in 2014, compared with 44.8% in 2010. Between 2010 and 2014, China lost 7.4 points of market share. 

This drop is even more pronounced if only finished products are taken into consideration. The country has lost 9.2 percentage points of market share for leather goods, 8.8 percentage points for leather garments and 8.3 percentage points for footwear.

The slight reduction experienced by China is partly related to the current economic situation in the country and also due to the progression of countries like Vietnam and India. Although their exports are still minimal compared to those of China, these two countries are seeing uninterrupted expansion of their exports. Over the 2004-2014, period, the market share of Vietnam and India respectively grew from 4% to 7.7% and from 2.5% to 3.3 %.

Imports have fallen for some major importers

The rankings of the largest importers in the leather sector changes little year on year. However, the market share of certain countries in worldwide imports has started to shrink. This is the case of Hong Kong, the United States and Japan.

Five years ago, Hong Kong’s imports represented 9% of global imports. Today they represent just 6%. For a long time, Hong Kong was the second largest importer in the world. But it has fallen two places in the rankings and in 2014 lay in fourth place, behind the United States, Germany and Italy.

The same applies to Japan which was the fifth largest importer in the world until 2013 and has just been overtaken by France and China. The United States are still the world’s leading importers, far ahead of any other country. Nevertheless, their share of global imports has fallen from 20% to 17.8% in five years. Italy has also experienced a slight fall. The market share of France and of Germany can be considered to be stable.

Among the main importers, China is gaining the most ground. China has traditionally been a large importer of raw materials, but in recent years it has also developed its imports of finished luxury goods, which has benefited countries like France and Italy.

Singapore does not yet appear in the rankings of the largest importers but it is making regular progress in imports of luxury goods.




*This document refers to trade in 2014. All statistics are calculated according to the value of the trade. This report can be downloaded from

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Le Conseil National du Cuir

The confederation brings together 21 federations and professional unions of the French leather industry, ranging from the farming of livestock through to the finished products.

The French leather industry

  • 12 800 businesses
  • 25 billion euro turnover, 
  • 133,000 people employed in the leather, tanning, footwear, leathergoods and glovemaking and leather goods retail industries.
  • One of the world leaders for finished calf leather and exotic leather
  • 3rd biggest exporter in the world of leathers and raw hides
  • 13th largest exporter of finished leathers
  • World No.3 for exports of leathergoods