New Delhi, Mar 22: Giving a much-needed push to the leather industry, India has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Ethiopia that will provide its counterpart leather manufacturers one of the world's best quality raw leather which will help increase its global presence.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, CII Chairman Shyamal Gupta, also a member of national committee on leather and leather products, said time has now come for Indian leather industry to take a giant move not only in domestic market but also in the global market. For India, leather is a strategic sector which has greater scope for employment generation as it is a labour intensive sector, he said, adding that about 2.4 million people are presently engaged in the leather sector.
Mr Gupta emphasised that India can play a supportive role in capacity buildings, research and development and making African goods more valued and accepted globally. Mr Lemma, an Advisor from Ethiopia, said key emphasis is given to private sector as an engine of growth. Export-led industrialisation, greater use of local resources and strengthening of the labour intensive technology are some of the important issues.
He said in a statement that leather and leather products are one of the sectoral focuses of Ethiopian development strategy. Their main target is production of 8 to 20 million pairs footwear annually; 87 thousand to 405 thousand pieces of leather garment and 41 to 275 thousand pieces leather goods per annum.
Industry experts say Ethiopia provides favourable environment for foreign investors, as it is providing duty free incentives for foreign investors, tax holidays of 2-8 years depending on the area of interest and volume of export. Currently, Ethiopia supplies 16 million skins per annum.
Ethiopian leather industry Chairperson Yizzaw Assefa said Ethiopia is now looking for producing finished leather products rather to remain a raw leather exporting country only.
However, the shoe industry is a very new one based on local technology and traditional methods, he said. Mr M Rafeeque Ahmed, who represented CII and signed the MoU on behalf of Indian groups with the Ethiopian leather industries association (ELIA) during the 4th CII-EXIM BANK Conclave on India Africa project partnership 2008 here last evening, has shown a sense of urgency to send high-powered delegates to Ethiopia.