Enhancing Competitiveness in the Leather Industry in Tanzania

In Africa, Tanzania is the second leading country after Ethiopia in terms of livestock population with reported statistics of 27.4 million head of cattle, 18.4 million head of goats, and 7.8 million head of sheep. Livestock activities account for 7.6% of the country’s GDP and about 1.7 million households rely on the sector for their wellbeing. Tanzania’s large endowment of livestock and sufficient labor availability is a source of significant comparative advantage against growing demand for leather and leather products in domestic, regional and international markets. Tanzania ranks as the 11th largest exporter of hides and skins in Sub-Saharan Africa with Asian markets her major export destination. Exports to China (including Hong Kong), Pakistan, and India accounted for 26% of total leather exports in 2018. To guide the realization of industry’s potential, the government of Tanzania has enacted and revised various laws, policies and strategies. Despite efforts implemented by the government and the recognized available potential of the leather value chain, Tanzania has failed to harness fully benefits from the industry. The country is less competitive compared to other global leather giants including Italy, Vietnam, in all competitiveness indicators except for availability and access to raw materials. This policy brief assesses trade development and competitiveness of the leather value chain in Tanzania, focusing on market competitiveness and production capacity. It also assesses the challenges hindering the trade competitiveness of the leather industry and provides recommendations on how to boost the trade competitiveness of the leather sector given that Tanzania has a significant potential for leather development. This brief is based on fieldwork conducted March – May 2021 and a review of recent literature in the leather value chain.