Leather exporters hit by infrastructure, manpower woes

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on January 30, 2011 Published on January 30, 2011

Mr Neeraj Kumar Gupta (centre), Executive Director, India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), with Mr M. Rafeeque Ahmed (left) , Chairman, Council for Leather Exports and Mr P.R. Aqeel Ahmed, Regional Chairman, South, Council for Leather Exports, at a press conference, in Chennai on Sunday ( January 30, 2011) Photo : Bijoy Ghosh To go with R. Balaji's report   -  Bijoy Ghosh

India International Leather Fair opens today

Leather exporters are constrained by deficiency in infrastructure and skilled human resource from fully exploiting the emerging opportunity in global markets, according to Mr M. Rafeeque Ahmed, Chairman, Council for Leather Exports.

Global brands and manufacturers are increasingly looking at India as an additional source for finished goods but capacity constraints are an issue.

The industry has sought Government support in addressing infrastructure bottlenecks to scaling up capacities. Mega leather clusters along the lines of the textile clusters created last year need to be established.

The leather industry will end the current financial year with a 15 per cent growth in exports over that of last year's $3.4 billion. Leather exports had dipped by about 5.5 per cent over the previous year due to the international slow down, but have made up lost ground and grown. As of December, exports were up by about 13 per cent, he said.

Global uncertainty

However, there is uncertainty in international markets especially the European Union which could see a reversal. The Government should not stop the export and marketing support to the industry, he told media persons while briefing them on the India International Leather Fair to be inaugurated in Chennai on Monday.

Skill development

The CLE has floated a non profit company with the National Skill Development Corporation to train new labour. Training facilities will be set up in every major export zone as the industry estimates that over the next three years it needs over 500,000 more workers to support a 60-70 per cent growth in capacities.

On the scale of expansion envisaged, he said, a footwear unit in India makes about 5,000 pairs a day. But in China a typical unit churns out 30,000 pairs a day.

India's share in global market is about three per cent and China's is 22 per cent. Even to support a 10 per cent shift away from China, India will have to look at large expansions in capacity. Nearly two-thirds of the exporters here are in the medium and small scale sector.

Mr P.R. Aqeel Ahmed, Regional Chairman – South, CLE, said the 26{+t}{+h} edition of the IILF has emerged the largest fair in Asia with participants from 19 countries expected at the four-day event. Spread over 9,100 sq. mts, more than 400 exhibitors including 128 from abroad will showcase a range of leather products, equipment, technology, accessories and services.

Order flows to the industry were healthy and have contributed to the growth in exports. However, capacity constraints and raw material shortage could be an issue in the coming year, he said.

Published on January 30, 2011
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