Leather exports soar

19 August 2001

Exports of Indian leather garments more than doubled in 2000, despite bans on imports from various international retailers. The Indian leather garments market has recorded a 106% incease in exports to the US during 2000, totalling Rs401 crore. Previous years saw growth of around 5-6%, says M L Sethi, president of the Indian Leather Garments Association. Last year, clothes retailer Gap and other international retailers banned leather imports from India following a campaign by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with an estimated loss to the Indian leather industry of US$28 million. With this, India has climbed several places to become the second largest leather garment exporter to the US, followed closely by Germany with exports to the US totalling Rs403 crore. UK and Italy follow way behind India with exports in the region of Rs200 crore. 'The PETA anti-India campaign, which highlighted that Gap had pulled out of India and that Indian leather was cheap, actually brought buyers flocking to us', say exporters. While low prices appeared attractive on the one hand, the fact that Gap had been importing until recently assured quality on the other, they explain. PETA has another side to the story. Jason Baker, head of PETA India says the expected dent in exports has been delayed as the organisation had agreed to suspend its campaign during the roughly the same period. 'We never really went full steam ahead in pushing the ban on Indian products. We had campaigned only for about two to three months', says Baker. In fact, Baker says the Indian exporters should now be worried. 'Globally we have gone after biggies like General Motors and P&G and we do not give up easily.' Source: Daily Times of India, New Delhi

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