Further indications that the tanning sector is cautiously picking up were evident at the latest Indian International Leather Fair held in Chennai.

Following six months of difficult trading conditions, many thought that the bottom of the slump had been reached and major world markets would improve during 2002.

Despite a global economic downturn, terrorist attacks and an over zealous animals rights campaign, Indian exporters still managed to increase sales for 2001. India’s exports of leather and leather products during April – August 2001 were US$845.74 million compared with US$828.21 million during the same period in 2000, recording a growth of 4.64%. India is also the second largest footwear producer in the world after China.

‘I think that the market has faced the worse period. Recently, the bovine market has not been so good whereas the goatskin producers have been doing very well’, Vishwanath M Raja, partner, Aksol Leathers and Chemicals told Leather International. ‘Over the next two or three months, we anticipate an improvement in sales in all types of leather manufacturing in India.’

The 17th IILF was officially inaugurated by Murasoli Maran, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry and Irshad Mirza, chairman, Council for Leather Exports.

During the inauguration, Irshad Mirza requested the government to declare a stable duty drawback plan for three to five years and extend the period for income tax exemption available on export profits under section 80 of India’s tax legislation.

The new Chennai Trade Centre housed the event for the second year and is seen as a vast improvement over the previous exhibition site. The local authorities plan to expand the centre to house more exhibitors next year.

Over 200 exhibitors (35 foreign from 19 countries) covering a range of sectors including finished leather, footwear, footwear components, leather garments, leathergoods and machinery and chemicals attended the fair. The IILF is organised by the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) in collaboration with the Council for Leather Exports.