Bangladesh has its sights set on fostering growth in its leather manufacturing sector.
Speaking via teleconference on the opening day of last week’s Bangladesh Leather Footwear and Leathergoods International Sourcing Show in Dhaka, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said two more leather industrial centers will be established in Rajshahi and Chittagong augment and expand the industry beyond Dhaka.
Hasina said the aim is to reach $5 billion in export of leather, leather goods and footwear as part of the government’s plan by 2021.
The country’s leather industry has been shifted recently to a newly developed zone in Savar after its growth inside Dhaka city’s Hazaribagh area.
In her talk, Hasina urged foreign investors and buyers to invest more in the country’s leather sector and buy more Bangladeshi leather products, according to the Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh.
The government plans to continue a 15 percent cash incentive for leather exports for the next five years, she said.
Bangladesh currently exports roughly $1.16 billion of leather goods and footwear products annually. According to the association, the leather sector is the country’s oldest, developed more than five decades ago, with close to 1 million people employed directly and indirectly.
At the fair, Commerce Secretary Shubashis Basu said, “earlier this year, as part of the policy drive to orient Bangladesh’s economy towards export diversification, the Government of Bangladesh has declared leather, footwear and leather products the national Product of the Year 2017.
Basu said the show will be instrumental in achieving $5 billion in exports by 2021.
The ministry reports that in the fiscal year that ended in June, overall export earnings from the leather industry were $1.23 billion, including finished leather, leather goods and footwear. Export earnings from leather goods was $464.43 million, crossing the export target by 3.21%, while export earnings from leather footwear was $536.96 million, surpassing the target of $500 million by 9.58%.
However, export earnings from finished leather was $232.61 million, falling short of the export target of $280 million by 16.93%.
Overall, leather goods and footwear exports saw growth of 19.63% and 8.53%, respectively, compared to the previous fiscal year.