Speakers at a seminar yesterday stressed the need for developing the country’s leather industry as per international standard and environment-friendly in order to grip the huge global export market.
They came up with the observation at a seminar on “Environment-friendly Leather Industries in Bangladesh: A Roadmap to Competitiveness and Sustainability,” jointly arranged by Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and RMM Leather Industries Limited, at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the city on Sunday. There is a US$ 110 billion worth global export market for leather and leather goods, of which China is exploiting around $ 39 billion market, they said. But, Chinese leather industry is facing several problems including wages hike of workforce, imposing anti-dumping tax by the European Union and appreciation of Yuan against dollar by 20 per cent. Because of the problems, leading Chinese leather entrepreneurs are relocating their industries in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia, Pakistan, India and Myanmar, they said.
If Bangladesh can attract at least 10 per cent of the existing market of Chinese leather and leather goods, the country’s export earnings from this sector will jump to $ 16 billion from the existing $ 1 billion within a short period of time, they observed.
Absence of environment-friendly leather industry, lack of craftsmanship and leather research institution, tardiness in implementing the Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) at Savar Leather Industrial Estate and problems in getting bank loans are the major obstacle hindering development of the country’s leather industry, they said and underscored the need for undertaking proper planning jointly by the government and the entrepreneurs to build a environment-friendly leather industry.
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu addressed the seminar as the chief guest while Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Environment and Forests Minister Anwar Hossain Manju, Barrister Fazle Noor Taposh, MP, senior commerce secretary Mahbub Ahmed, EPB vice chairman Shubashish Bose, FBCCI first vice president Monwara Hakim Ali and chairman of RMM Leather Industries Mohiuddin Ahmed Mahin, among others, also spoke on the occasion.
Tofail Ahmed said Bangladeshi leather and leather goods have good prospects in far-eastern countries, including Japan, South Korea and China. “Bangladesh might grab the market of the far eastern countries if the leather sector practices the hygienic standard and maintains compliance issues,” Tofail said.
Japan might turn into a big market for Bangladesh’s leather and leather goods and the issue would come up for discussions during the Prime Minister’s upcoming Japan visit, he added.
Bangladesh’s economy is moving forward, the minister said adding that the government is trying to open up new export markets, especially in South American countries like Peru and Argentina, through diversifying the country’s exportable items.”
“The days are not far away when the country’s export earnings will hit $ 50 billion, of which $ 30 billion earnings will come alone from the country’s readymade garment sector,” he hoped. “If the political stability continues, Bangladesh will be able to make further progress,” Tofail added.
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu said water of the Buriganga River has been polluted mainly due to inflowing of wastage from the leather industry. After Rana Plaza Tragedy, the foreign buyers are playing with Bangladesh’s RMG sector in the name of compliance and labour rights issue, Amu said.
The government is now working to develop the country’s leather industry maintaining compliance and international standard so that the foreign buyers could not raise their voice over the compliance and labour rights issue in this sector, he added.
The construction work of the CETP at Savar Leather Industrial Estate is going ahead in full swing, he added.
The leather entrepreneurs will face some problems during relocating their tanneries from Hazaribag to Savar, the industries minister said and underscored the need for concerted efforts to resolve all the barriers in the leather industry.