Bangladesh Leather Sector Recovers From Two-Year Slump

11 November 2019

Due to higher shipments to non-traditional markets, the export of leather and leather goods from Bangladesh has bounced back after more than two years of struggles, according to exporters.

According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the leather and leather products sector registered a growth rate of 1.32%, resulting in earnings of $185.41 million in July-August of the current fiscal year. This figure was $183 million during the same period in the 2018-19 financial year.

Shaheen Ahmed, chairman of the Bangladesh Tanners’ Association (BTA), said that besides the traditional markets, such as South Korea, China, European Union, US and Canada, the export of leather products has also increased in non-traditional markets, like South Africa, India, Australia, Spain, Japan and Singapore.

Moreover, the value addition to leather products was another reason behind the positive export trend, he added. Over the past two years, however, the

leather sector had registered a negative growth because of the slow shift of tanneries from Hazaribagh to the newly-built Savar Tannery Complex.

The leather industry has been struggling for the past two years due to a lack of new investment, poor product variety, artificial leather penetration, a price hike on leather products and a lack of vigilance on behalf of the tannery estates.

Exporters also blamed the US-China trade war for the slump. “China used to take raw hide from us and processed them further to make raw material. The US government has signalled an imposition of 25 per cent tariff on a number of Chinese products entering the US market, including leather. Eventually, this affected us badly and China stopped taking raw hide from us,”

Notably, the Bangladeshi government had declared this sector as the “Product of the Year-2017”.

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