Bangladesh loses $5-10 billion in leather exports due to environmental issues: experts







Environmental issues are holding back the export of Bangladeshi leather to Europe and the United States and a potential earning of up to $10 billion a year, traders and exporters say.

Industries sell rawhide (wet blue) at $1 per square foot to some specific countries, which is possible to sell at a 50-60% higher price in Europe and the United States by respecting environmental standards, they said, UNB reports.

In 2020, the global leather goods market was worth $394 billion, Bangladesh can earn $5-10 billion a year from the export of leather goods, if environmental issues are addressed, they said .

“Elite brands in the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) sell leather shoes for between $150 and $1,000 a pair. But they are not selling products made by polluting the environment,” said Mohiuddin Ahmed, chairman of the Bangladesh Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association (BFLLFEA).

“Pollution occurs in the leather industrial city of Savar (Hemayetpur). That’s why the EU and the US don’t buy our leather. We are forced to sell to the Chinese at a low price, which is $1 per square foot of leather. But if we sell to European and American buyers, we will get a 50-60% higher price,” he added.

Ahmed said that given the current situation, the Ministry of Industry should authorize at least 20 tanneries to build their own effluent treatment plants (ETPs), which is suitable for certification by the international organization Leather Working Group. (LWG).

This helps to reduce the pressure on the Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) and at the same time the stagnation of the leather sector will be resolved, he suggested.

“The leather sector is not a cottage industry, it is a heavy industry. Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) does not have the capacity to handle such a big industry, so it should move from BSCIC to save the sector,” the BFLLFEA Chairman said.

In 2014 BFLLFEA, Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) and Bangladesh Hide and Skin Merchants’ Association (BHSMA) in a meeting with Ministry of Commerce set the price of cowhide at Tk 70-75 per square foot in Dhaka. The price outside Dhaka was 60-65 Tk for sacrificial animals.

But in the end, on the day of Eid-ul-Azha, rawhide without salt was sold at Tk 90-100 per square foot at Lalbagh Posta in Old Dhaka.

Over the past eight years, the price of rawhide has been decreasing every year. People took to the floor due to the drop in the price of leather, which was slightly improved by a salted rawhide pricing decision by the Ministry of Commerce.

The price per square foot of salted cowhide has been set at Tk 47 to Tk 52 in the capital, while outside the city it would fluctuate between Tk 40 and 44 for this year. Similarly, goatskin, according to this standard, had to be sold between Tk 18 and 20 per square foot and goatskin between Tk 12 and 14.

But in reality rawhide of sacrificial cowhide was 200 Tk to 350 Tk while goatskin was sold at 10 Tk only in Dhaka, said Mufti Mustafijur Rahman, Deputy Principal of Jamia Islamia, Eskaton.

Previously, 50% of his madrash’s annual expenses were funded by the sale of leather during Eid-ul-Azha, which fell to 20% in the past eight years, he said.

Dr. Mohammad Abu Eusuf, professor of development studies at the University of Dhaka, told UNB that due to the lack of proper government policies and initiatives, Bangladesh is missing out on a large volume of opportunities. export of leather goods.

If the leather sector is reformed with modern policy and technology, eliminating pollution from the leather industry, it can earn $5 billion to $10 billion a year, he said.

Leather is one of the oldest industries in Bangladesh. Exporting 10% of global leather demand, Bangladesh’s leather industry has become the country’s second largest foreign exchange earner after RMG.

Blessed with a favorable environment for animal husbandry and husbandry, Bangladesh has 2.0% of the total livestock in the world. According to experts, Bangladesh leather is internationally popular for its high quality fine grain leather, uniform fiber structure, smooth feel and natural texture.

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