Bangladesh is a popular name when it comes to the export of readymade garments, manufactured commodities like- cement, salt, stone, ores, slag, ash, petroleum bi-products, jute & jute goods, and leather & leather goods. According to the EPB, accounting for more than 80% of the country’s total exports, readymade garments hold the top position. The leather industry also has a significant contribution to the country’s total exports. According to the ministry and sectoral entrepreneurs, leather and leather products account for 4% and 0.5% of the country’s total exports. For fiscal 2020-21, the sector’s total exports were made up of about 12.5%, 27%, and 60% of leather, leather products, and leather footwear.
According to the EPB, exports of leather and leather products have increased steadily since 2010. In fiscal 2012-13, the total leather exports rose to over $1.12 billion, and in fiscal 2016-17, the figure crossed over $1.23 billion, which was the highest in the sector’s history. Although, during the pandemic in fiscal 2019-20, export earnings from this sector declined to $797.6 million, which was down by 21.79% from a year ago. Then again, in the last fiscal year 2020-2021, the volume increased by 18% to $941.6 million from the previous fiscal year earlier.
Now, the government eyes an ambitious growth in its export earnings from leather and leather goods by 2030. In order to grab the global market for leather goods just like readymade garments, a ten-year perspective plan is being drafted by the ministry of commerce, which includes a target to increase leather export earnings from below $1 billion to $10-12 billion by 2030. If Bangladesh can live upto the target, it will be among the top 10 leather exporters globally.
The president of the Bangladesh Tanners Association said that “It is possible to achieve the target set by the government. But to do this, factories need to be made compliant.” Leather Working Group’s certificates are important in attracting foreign buyers. If factories are not fully compliant, getting this certificate is impossible. “To attract foreign buyers and get higher prices for products, it is a must,” he added.
However, only three companies in Bangladesh have received this certification so far, while countless others did not receive any certification as they could not be qualify. In order to increase the exports to $5 billion by 2025 and increase the sector’s contribution to GDP to 1%, the industries ministry has formulated a policy for the development of leather and leather products in 2019.