10 June 2022
Dr Mike Redwood examines some of the current challenges facing the leather industry across the globe, from geopolitical conflict to trade shows. As published on ILM. China’s Belt and Road initiative I have always interrogated the context before adopting or suggesting a strategy. Looking back notes from 2012 it was longer lives, technology, a more connected world, urbanisation and rising affluence in Asia and Africa that were driving change. 10 years and a pandemic, a war and some big political switches they have totally transformed. What if China and the U.S. continue their decoupling? How will the world be able to pull the hundred million or more who slipped back into poverty during the pandemic, and avoid even larger numbers joining them in abject poverty if inflation and food issues remain? Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign slogan “It’s the economy, stupid” soon became a global mantra. In reality today politics drive many leaders and they are willing to take actions, often bizarre, that weaken economic growth to stay in power. So, the framework in which tanners work has totally changed. Over and above carbon emissions and biodiversity companies must consider Russia, gender rights, inflation, worried consumers, fragile supply chains while governments focus on energy security, poverty reduction and food security and the risk of opportunistic wars while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is creating a distraction. Qeen’s jubilee The UK has spent four days celebrating a Queen who has reigned for 70 years, and I added a picture from her Silver Jubilee in 1977, showing us decorating the British Club in El Salvador where we had a memorable event. By 1978 all expats had left as the Civil War kicked off, and even the owner of our shoe company and tannery moved to Costa Rica to run the company remotely. Yet El Salvador remains a great place to live despite the current well-publicised problems. We would still be there had the fighting not got too close with a close neighbour kidnapped and killed, our dentist shot and the substation at the tannery blown up. A look into the future……..to read the rest of this comment by Dr Redwood, click on ILM – Redwood Comment

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