A significant worsening of the country’s leather exports has led Bangadesh to post lower than expected growth in its export figures. The country saw anaemic growth of 6.66% for the FY 2017-18 as leather and leather products export fell by more than 11% in the period.

"Any positive impact of non-ready made garments (RMG) products on the export earnings is good for our country,” Centre for Policy Dialogue research director Khondoker Golam Moazzem said. “Due to the negative impact of non-RMG products including leather and leather products in the export earnings, the overall export earnings witnessed a meagre growth in July-May period.”

One key factor that was pinpointed as damaging Bangladeshi leather producers was the country’s infrastructure. ‘Inefficiency of ports (sea and air) and customs is the key reasons for the negative growth in exporting leather and leather products,’ said Mohammed Nazmul Hassan, vice-president of the Leather Goods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh. ‘We faced tremendous problems in Chittagong seaport and Dhaka airport in last three months.”

According to the EPB data, leather and leather product exports in the 11 months of FY18 fell by 11.08% to $999.07 million from $1.12 billion in the same period of FY17. Leather footwear export increased by 7.14% to $511.58 million, while earnings from leather products fell by 24.40% to $318.46 million in the period.