VM Khaleelur Rahman
Chennai, July 25: Indian Finished Leather Manufacturers and Exporters Association (IFLMEA), has sought the continuation of the existing leather export policy in response to a plea made by tanners for a free leather export regime.
IFLMEA members want the present policy of government, which is as per the recommendations of the Seetharamikah Committee, to continue in order to boost exports.
They point out that the appreciable jump in leather and leather product exports from a mere Rs 500 crore in 1980-81 to about Rs 6,500 crore in 1998-99 was possible because of this policy and the support of the government for the value added leather products. These measures should not be reveresed now, they say.
IFLMEA, in a memorandum addressed to the Minister for Commerce Ramakrishna Hegde said: Opening up of export of EI leather (semi-processed and considered as raw material) will only put all the investments (on plant and machinery of tanneries) at great risks and the efforts of the government in the last fewyears would be brought to naught.
The government must maintain a status quo in its present policy in the exports of finished leather, the memorandum said. However, East India tanners argue that ``eco-friendly and multi-purpose EI tanned leather, a speciality of Tamil Nadu from ancient time, is in no way inferior to some other types of leather allowed for export.''
They seek suitable amendment in the present ISI norms for identification of finished leather for its export at the present when there is a huge glut of leathers in the market. They are for a time-warranted export policy to save our national wealth from going waste and find an outlet in overseas markets.
Meanwhile T Ramaswamy, Director, Central Leather Research Institute, Chennai suggested in a communication that tanners should try to solve difference, if any, by discussing them threadbare and arriving at a consensus in a seminar without involving politiacs in the interest of the trade, industry and country. He has regretted his inability toinvolve the institute in any trade, export or import controversy as its main funcitons are for techincal advancement and modernisation of the leather industry. It remains to be seen how the industry reacts to this right suggestion.
There is good sale of local items of tanner goat skins like Paper, kid, Rejection and Langda at around Rs.150/140/115/85 per kg. But there is little demand for higher grades suede goat skins due to restricted export activities by garment manufacturers.
Wetblue sheep skins lot of Northern origins are saleable at around Rs 120 to Rs 130 per piece. Many leather exporters show interest for red-hair sheep skins for making cabretta and buy them at around Rs 160 and much more for some selected items.
Shoe manufacturers operate as usual in the market for their requirements of weblue cowhides 1/11 at around Rs 55 to 58 per square foot. Prices of raw cow hides went up by Rs 50 per piece and wetblue cow hides by Re 1/- per square foot due to purchases from different sources. GlobalLeather, a fair to be held on July 28 and 29, 1999 in Boston (USA) is expected to give some indication about the future trends of the leather market.
(The author is a Chennai-based leather analyst)