Leather industry seeks Centre's support

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Tiruchirapalli, Dec 28: The Tiruchi Tanners' Association has urged the Union government to permit export of East India leather (a type of semi-processed leather) without duty.

In a memorandum to the Union Commerce and Industries Ministry, a copy of which was made available to the Press here, Association secretary V S M Varis Mohideen said that though the Ministry had permitted export of East India leather in January 2000, imposition of 15 per cent export duty had crippled the industry.

He said East India tanneries had been rendered sick since exporters of finished leather and leather product manufacturers preferred to import raw skin and other intermediate leather such as crust and wet blue, which did not entail any duty. Consequently, the capacity of East India tanning industries in the country were under-utilised and the stocks had accumulated, the memorandum said.

East India tanners in the State were facing enormous difficulties in upgrading effluent treatment plants, adopting Membrane Bio Reactor and reverse osmosis technology in spite of 50 per cent Government subsidy. About 50 per cent of the tanning capacity in Tiruchirapalli and Dindigul had been lost due to closure of tanneries on account of non-compliance of pollution control measures as ordered by the Green Bench of Madras High Court and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, as well as due to the export policies of the Centre in fixing unreasonable norms for finished leather export, the memorandum said.

Mr Mohideen said that notwithstanding the hurdles, there were opportunities in the leather industry based on the ambitious leather export target of Rs 30,000 crore, as against the current Rs 13,000 crore.

He said India, the second largest manufacturer of garments and footwear, exported 15 per cent of Europe's requirements. India's share in leather export could be enhanced from the present 2.9 per cent to a double digit level if the duty on East India leather and other trade barriers were removed. Remedies could also be provided through removal of import duty on wattle extracts, doing away with outdated finished leather norms and permitting foreign joint ventures for production with buy back arrangement.


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