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Thrust on improving ease of doing business to boost leather sector

Business leaders have called for improving ease of doing business and addressing logistical hassles and infrastructure bottlenecks such as port congestions in order to realise the full potential of the leather industry.

They also called upon the relevant bodies to take up long-term policy support to achieve US$5.0 billion exports by 2021.

The call came at the 15th Annual General Meeting of Leathergoods And Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) for 2017-18 held at a city hotel on Saturday, says a statement.

Presided over by Association President Md Saiful Islam, the meeting was attended by Sr. Vice-President Abdul Momen Bhuiyan, Vice-Presidents Nasir Khan and Md Nazmul Hassan Sohail, Directors M Anisur Razzaque and Ziaur Rahman and Advisor of LFMEAB Syed Nasim Manzur, among others.

LFMEAB President Md Saiful Islam presented the Annual Report 2017-18 at the AGM.

In his speech, Saiful Islam highlighted the state of economy at home and abroad, national and global outlook of the industry, strategic opportunities and major initiatives taken in 2017-2018.

In the last five years, from fiscal year (FY) 2013-14 to 2016-17, the sector retained an approximate positive average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 11 per cent. In FY 2017-18, however, there was a downfall to 10.7 per cent.

In this critical context, Saiful Islam stated that despite having market access to EU, Canada, Southern Hemisphere and Far East, the Bangladesh leather sector, including the products, is losing its competitive edge due to environmental non-compliant of Savar Tannery Estate.

In this regard, he highlighted the compliance and beyond compliance initiative of the LFMEAB.

Under beyond compliance initiative, Tuberculosis (TB) screening test programme covered 33,144 workers in 67 member-factories, and eyesight acuity test covered 10,113 workers of 14 member-factories and awareness programmes on health and hygiene covered 9,414 female workers of six factories.

The LFMEAB has also handed over Tk 0.1 million (per person) to 22 vulnerable women returnees from the Middle East.

The association president also underlined the current global export market size of leather, leathergoods and footwear, which is US$244 billion, presenting huge growth opportunities for Bangladesh.

Citing the Fashion Industry Benchmarking Study 2017 report, he said Bangladesh is the most competitive in terms of price.

"'Made in Bangladesh' enjoys a prominent price advantage over many other Asian suppliers. China's high export share in the sector in Europe is on the wane and Japan seeks to boost and diversify its sourcing strategy under 'China Plus One Strategy', that seeks to diversify sourcing and reduces its reliance on China."

Here is an opportunity for Bangladeshi leather goods manufacturers and exporters to fill in the vacuum and enhance and expand exports to global supply chain, he said.

Saiful Islam informed the AGM that the LFMEAB is going to organise the second edition of BLLISS (Bangladesh Leatherfootwear & Leathergoods International Sourcing Show) 2018 to be held on November 22-24 at the International Convention City Bashundhara in Dhaka.

The show will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a special event on November 22 at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka, he said.

At the AGM, the Audit Report for 2017-18 of the association was approved unanimously.

The Association president also welcomed 19 new members to the Association.

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