Bangladesh, leather supply chain at a crossroads: investing or dying

Bangladesh, filiera della pelle al bivio: investire o morire

In Bangladesh, the leather supply chain is at a crossroads. Whether it grows, exploiting the potential that even the major international analysts see. Or it shuts down, stifled by negative data confirmed again for the first half of the new fiscal year.

Slow start

The Export Promotion Bureau has recently released data on the export of leather products for the July-December period. In those 6 months, the sector has recorded a decrease of 10.61%, generating sales for 475,83 million dollars. In the first half of the previous fiscal year, sales had instead reached 532,3 million dollars. According to experts, the trend would be negatively influenced by the fact that a large part of the tanneries that moved to Savar have not yet entered into operation. In addition, as highlighted by the president of the Bangladesh Tanners’ Association, Shaheen Ahamed, to, the demand for leather products from countries such as South Korea, China and some countries of the European Union has dropped due, to the diffusion of synthetic materials.

Leather supply chain at the crossroads

Difficulties are bringing down a supply chain which, according to a recent analysis by the International Bank Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group, could lead to great momentum for Bangladesh. World Bank experts believe that the Asian country should focus on leather, footwear and light engineering products to expand its basket of exported products. Thus, it could support accelerated economic growth, increase investment opportunities, and create more jobs. The hope of local tanners is, therefore, that the government speed up the commissioning of the effluent treatment plant, the famous CETP, of Savar.

Cry for help

The desperate appeal was renewed also on January 13. At a conference in Dhaka, Saiful Islam, president of the Association of Bangladesh leather and footwear manufacturers and exporters, stressed that “something must be done to add value. Bangladesh has an important advantage over others, as the leather sector can count on the internal flow of raw materials – continues from the portal -. The goal of exporting 5 billion dollars in leather products by 2021, however, may not be possible”.

A deaf government

In Dhaka the voice of tanners seems destined to remain unheard. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinaha‘s government has announced plans to establish industrial parks for footwear and leather products in several cities: Savar, Puthia and Chattogram itself. More than on the processing of raw materials, therefore, the Bengali administration seems oriented towards investments in the development of finished products.

The High Court closes 100 tanneries

Meanwhile, the High Court has closed 100 tanneries, because they were abusive and polluting. The measure comes within a larger one that affects 231 factories overall. For them, the supply of gas, water and electricity is now suspended. “These factories have carried out serious crimes for years”, comments the president of the committee for the protection of the Bengali river network (National River Conservation Commission of Bangladesh) to Associated France Press. What would the crimes in question be? “They never got environmental permits and polluted Buriganga. We will supervise the application of the High Court provision”.

Image from ShutterStock

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