Ariful Islam
Bangladesh will do everything to expand its leather markets across the globe with an export earnings target of five billion dollars by 2021, a commerce ministry official says.
Since shifting of the tannery industry from the city’s Hazaribagh area to Savar, the country’s leather sector is facing serious difficulties to compete in the global market, experts told Bangladesh Post.
As a result, traders in the leather sector are failing to manufacture quality leather goods like footwear and bags, due to various reasons, said an expert.
The export of leather and leather goods has significantly decreased by almost 12 percent to $1.08 billion in fiscal 2017-2018 against that in the previous fiscal.
During July-October in FY 19, export earnings from this sector stood at $345.2 million, which was 19.43 percent lower than that in the same period of the previous fiscal.
The current FY 19, the target from this sector was 1.12 billion.
Shaheen Khan, President of Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA), told this correspondent “We are still facing various problems at our new place. Many tanneries have not gone into operation as yet. Besides, many tanneries are now running without Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP).”
“We are unable to grab the foreign market as the CETP is not fully functional as yet,” he said, adding that the government should take immediate action to solve this problem to attract foreign buyers in order to inject more funds into the sector.
Khan termed the government’s move to boost the tannery industry a positive sign, while adding, it will be difficult to earn $5 dollars by 2021 by exporting leather goods.
Md Shakawat Ullah, general secretary of BTA told Bangladesh Post, the government has taken various initiatives to boost the leather sector, which is a very potential item after readymade garments.
Although the export earnings of leather goods and rawhides have decreased significantly, it will come back to a positive growth soon through government’s several steps, he mentioned.
We are mainly depended on Chinese market for leather exports, but country has faced different trade barriers with the United States which pushed export earnings down in this sector, he said.
Shakawat added, now is the time to diversify the market with quality products across the world especially in the European market, to increase earnings from this sector.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has recently said, Bangladesh has immense scope to flourish its leather industry abroad as the country is already producing leather goods for many globally-reputed brands.
“Our workers can manufacture high quality products if they get a little training. Particularly our women are more expert in crafting handwork on leather goods”, she said.
We want more foreign brands to come here with investments, Hasina said, adding that it will help them get manpower at a low cost, and create employment opportunities for us.
The prime minister asked the authorities of the newly established Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to keep an area in every zone particularly for leather industries to attract foreign investment.