Chinese companies are keen on exploring Bangladesh's leather and footwear market, seeking to draw investors and have a share of the flourishing sector.
A total of 40 Chinese companies are showcasing leather and footwear manufacturing machinery, accessories and various kinds of intermediate products and ornamental accessories at a fair that kicked off in the capital yesterday.
The three-day “Bangladesh Leather and Footwear Expo” was jointly organised by Bangladesh Indenting Agents Association (BIAA) and Limra Trade Fair and Exhibition (Pvt) Ltd at International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB) in Purbachal.
Countries participating in it include China, the USA, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy, Thailand, and Vietnam. A total of 240 stalls were set up to showcase their products and machinery.
“We are trying to be a big player in supplying leather and footwear manufacturing machinery in Bangladesh as the market is booming here,” said Rophy Huang, sales manager of Fengchang Automatic Equipment Co Ltd, China.
Talking to The Daily Star, Huang said they were also working on establishing an office in Chittagong. “We are also looking for business partners in Bangladesh,” she said.
Regarding the domestic footwear market's current size, Syed Manzur Elahi, chairman of Apex Group, said it was roughly Tk 2,700 crore and its growth was 10 to 12 percent year-on-year. According to Elahi, also a former adviser to a caretaker government, exports crossed $450 million last year.
Huang's company is showcasing a machine that gives the finishing touches to sports and leather shoes and leather bags. Its price starts at $18,000, based on whether it was using Japanese, Chinese or German technology.
Wang Xianjian, director of Yinwei (HK) Trade Co Ltd, said they have already supplied machines to Bangladeshi companies such as Papella, Youngone, Royal Footwear, Blue Ocean Footwear, Bay Footwear and Atlas Footwear.
Shishi QingCanXing Hardware Crafts Co Ltd, a metal buckle manufacturer, is displaying hundreds of ornamental designs and accessories. Shelly Yua, who looks after the company's international sales, said they were yet to start exporting to Bangladesh. She said business was growing in Bangladesh for the sector was producing world class products.
AKM Azad, proprietor of SAS Enterprise and vice president of BIAA, said the sector has been witnessing a gradual rise in product diversification and use of technology.
He said there was at least 100 export-oriented medium and big footwear manufacturers in Bangladesh.
Inaugurating the fair, Industries Minister Amir Hossen Amu said leather and footwear exports witnessed a sevenfold growth in the last decade, leading to Bangladesh becoming the world's eighth largest shoe manufacturer.