Indian leather units see opportunity in exports to US, other markets

The Indian leather industry is eyeing an opportunity to increase exports to the US and other countries, at at time when Chinese shipments to these markets are becoming more expensive, said senior officials from the Council of Leather Exports (CLE). The Council is the nodal agency for the international promotion and overall development of the Indian leather and leather products industry.

Speaking to the reporters while announcing the launch of the 19th International Technical Footwear Congress, organised in India for the first time in collaboration with the International Union of Shoe Industry Technicians and the Desighners Fair for Leather Industry, the Council said that while so far Indian exports were focusing in European countries, there is an opportunity in the US and other countries that are opening up to Indian exports.

"Markets like the US has been mainly served by China so far, but with the cost of production going up in China, the products from that country are getting expensive and India has spotted an opportunity to export to these countries," said P R Aqeel Ahmed, regional chairman-South, CLE.

India is one of the largest footwear manufacturers, exporting around 10-15 per cent of the output. Almost 65 per cent of shipments are to Europe, while the US was not an impressive market so far.

Currently around $12 billion in size, the leather industry has been identified as a focus sector under the Make In India scheme of Government of India. Around 50 per cent of the leather business is in exports, while the rest is the domestic market. It envisages to increase the business to around $27 billion by 2020, by when the domestic business would be around $15 billion, according to the officials.

"We are confident that the future of leather industry is bright, as there is emerging opportunity both in domestic as well as export market," said Naresh S Bhasin, regional chairman-West, CLE.

The industry has already started training programmes to create adequate skilled manpower to meet the target and expects more overseas companies to come to India and set up operations in future.

The Technical Footwear Congress would discuss the latest developments in footwear manufacturing, under the theme Future Footwear Factory, with topics including intelligent manufacturing and digital smart factory, sustainable and regulatory trends impacting factories and attractive footwear factories and new way of management. Around 403 Indian delegates and 165 overseas delegates from 27 countries would be participating in the event, which is scheduled to start on February 3, 2016.

The Designer Fair, started on Monday, has around 24 overseas designers, two Indian designers and three institutions participating in it.

CLE is also the largest representative organisation of the Indian leather industry with over 3,500 leather, leather products and footwear manufacturing and exporting companies as its members.

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