Bangladesh’s leather industry is underperforming, specifically with exports, despite its huge potential, and the blame is being put on the doorsteps of the lack of backward linkage industries, inconsistent policies and unnecessary red tape.

Vietnam is a newcomer to the global footwear export market, joining just a decade ago, and the Southeast Asian nation’s export now stands at $20 billion a year. On the other hand, Bangladesh joined the fray three decades ago but its overseas shipment in the segment has stagnated at the $1 billion mark, despite having the main raw material and human resources. 

A lack of backward linkage industries, lengthy customs procedures, inconsistent policies and the stressful bureaucracy standing in front of getting bonded warehouse facilities for the import of raw materials are the reasons for low leather goods exports from Bangladesh, said Nasir Khan, chairman and managing director of Jenny’s Shoes, one of the pioneers in the manufacturing and exporting of footwear.

“However, Bangladesh is capable of increasing its leather and footwear exports to $10 billion by 2025 if the authorities, such as the National Board of Revenue and the port authority, as well as the banks, extend cooperation to exporters,” he said in an interview recently.