Leather exporters have achieved the $2 billion target set for exports in 2003-04, according to industry estimates.

This was confirmed by the chairman of the Council for Leather Exports, S S Kumar, who said that feedback received from customs officials indicated that the strong export momentum witnessed between April and December 2003 has been maintained during the remaining months of the fiscal year.

If this is borne out by the official figures, it would mean that the leather sector has been able to reverse the declining trend of the earlier years. Exports dropped by 1.4% and 6.3% during 2001-02 and 2002-03 respectively, CLE sources said. Between April and December 2003, exports were valued at $1.5 billion, registering a growth of 5.4% over the same period in 2002.

The engine of growth has been the leather footwear industry, which showed 20% growth between April and December 2003. Countries where Indian shoe exports made significant gains were Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Greece, Switzerland, South Africa, Austria, Belgium, China and Indonesia. However, footwear component exports, such as uppers, continued their downward slide. Finished leather exports, too, were down.