LAHORE -  Pakistan is the only country in the region which has negative growth rate of its leather exports. Even exports of Bangladesh have surpassed Pakistan’s exports.

This was stated by former central chairman of Pakistan Tanners Association Agha Saiddain, in a letter written to the chief of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, S M Muneer.

The letter stated that all the countries in the region are using imported hides and skins to boost their exports without paying any duty but unfortunately despite negative growth rate of Pakistan the government has imposed 1 per cent levy on import of the basic raw material of the leather industry, leading to further decline in our exports. The former PTA chairman and chairman of Regional Standing Committee on Leather Industry, FPCCI Agha Saiddain observed that growth rate of leather sector exports was in minus and exports reduced against positive growth in the region with 47 per cent, 40 per cent, and 102 per cent in China, India and Bangladesh, respectively during last five years.

“The major reason for decline in growth of this second largest export sector was mainly unfriendly policies of the government and persistent energy crisis and frequent loadshedding of electricity and gas. He explained in detail that leather processing is continuous process industry and electricity shutdowns not only cause serious damage to leather in process but also have adverse effects on its quality. Due to this serious problem, the leather sector is facing stagnation in its growth for last 6 years, he added.

Leather sector is providing jobs to more than one million people directly and indirectly and specially to weaker sections of our society. For this very reason Indian government injected Rs25710 million for uplift of this sector under ILDP (Indian Leather Development Plans). The sector has potential to grow three times if bottlenecks in shape of loadshedding and others are removed.

PTA has been requesting time and again the government for ‘priority status’ of the sector but except announcement of Leather Export Promotion Council there is not a single practical step towards uplift of the sector.

Contrary to this, the government has withdrawn facility of subsidy on participation in international fairs. The subsidy amount was paid from the sector’s own funds collected under the head of Export Development Fund at the rate of 0.25 per cent from each export consignment.

With little attention the government can raise exports of leather sector to $ 3 billion in next 2/3 years, he claimed. Presently 95% of tanned leather is exported in finished form and in the form of leather products such as garment, gloves, footwear, and leather goods.

He said that the tanneries in Pakistan are capable of producing world class leather if this sector is patronized by the government by providing uninterrupted electricity and gas supply.