Leather industry gung-ho over global demand

http://www.theindependentbd.com/business/finance/35121-leather-industry-gung-ho-over-global-demand.html

Leather industry gung-ho over global demand
AKRAM HOSSAIN

Dhaka , Feb 19: The country’s tanneries and leather and leather goods makers are putting on warpaint to battle for more orders in the international markets. The latest data published on the website of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) shows that the country’s leather export earnings rose 29.94 per cent to US $149.46 million, in the last seven months of the fiscal 2010-11, as against $115.02 million in the corresponding period of the previous year. The EPB’s data revealed that leather goods exports, during the period between July 2010 and January 2011, were to the tune of $149.46 million, which is 8.46 per cent lower than the target of $163.28 million.

An analysis of the EPB data showed that the country’s leather product export earnings were forging ahead due to growing international demand for Bangladeshi leather products, mainly for quality and cheaper prices. But in terms of export earnings leather products lag far behind finished leather.

According to the statistical data of EPB, the country earned $31.40 million through exports of leather products during the July 2010-January 2011 period; the earning was 62.11 per more than the targeted figure of $19.37 million.

During the last seven months of the current fiscal, exporters of leather products registered 145.70 per cent earnings growth over that in the corresponding period of the previous year.

Md. Saiful Islam, president of Leather Goods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB), told The Independent that the country’s tanners and leather product producers are witnessing demand for their finished leather and leather goods in the international market.

Islam said the leather industry is cashing in on the Chaina+1 strategy, which tells foreign importers to pick Bangladeshi products as they have quality and cheaper prices.

“Our local leather products are better than China’s in terms of quality and prices; these factors help win the confidence of foreign buyers,” he added.

Md. Sahin Ahmed, chairman of Bangladesh Tanners Association, told The Independent that the country’s export earnings from finished leather went through ups and downs during the past few years, but now they are expected to increase.  “Export earnings from leather products are still so much skimpy compared to those from finished leather due to lack of modern technology and skilled workforce,” he said.

“Many investors would invest in the leather industry of Bangladesh if bank loans with low interest rate, uninterrupted supply of gas and electricity and good institutions to train workers were ensured,” said an official of Bangladesh Finished Leather and Leather goods and Footwear Exporters Association (BFLLFEA).

“Despite having a leather technology college, we do not get sufficient numbers of skilled workers for the sector due to the shortage of teachers,” the official said.

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