Leather sector's export picking up
It is heartening to note that we have had two consecutive years of good export earnings from the leather and leather goods sector. The figure for 2014-15 is estimated at $1.13 billion, slightly up from $1.12 billion recorded in the previous fiscal year. Although consistency in growth is welcome given the crisis in Euro zone, the total earning is modest by all accounts. In the first place, we are falling short of the targets with the result that we find ourselves on somewhat unsure grounds to be making realistic and redeemable projections for the sector's future growth.
For instance, this year's performance missed the target of $1.4 billion by 19.09 percent. To be realistic, therefore, the next year's target has been revised downward to $1.21 billion, representing a mere 7.28 percent increase in earning over the level of last fiscal year. This rate needs to be progressively accelerated if we are to attain our target of $5 billion by 2020, just five years on.
The potential is huge with the global export market being worth $215 billion of which our current share is only 0.5 percent. Even so, the sector is the second largest export earner after the garments.
The way forward is easy to envision. The priorities are three-fold: First, remove the major hindrance to export by expeditiously relocating the polluting Hazaribagh tanneries to Savar with no further extension allowed to recalcitrant industries. Two, negotiate with Japan which has 30 percent share of our export to retain duty-free advantage for us. And finally, we diversify export destinations through aggressive salesmanship based on focused policy backup.