Despite a decline of 12 per cent in total leather footwear exports from Bangladesh last year, the sector has managed to stay afloat with an increase of 17.70 per cent to the US market in the same period.
As per the statistics retrieved from OTEXA (Office of Textiles and Apparel), Bangladesh leather sector accounted for US $ 133.25 million in 2018, up by US $ 20 million from 2017’s total exports of US $ 113.33 million. Out of the total export revenue generated, leather footwear makes US $126.17 million, while the rest from other footwear products.
The industry experts have attributed the ongoing US-China trade war for this rise in exports from the US market. To further substantiate this, China which has remained the largest footwear exporter to US witnessed a minor dip of 0.89 per cent to US $ 13.90 billion from last year’s US $ 14.02 billion.
Apart from Bangladesh, Vietnam is also enjoying the benefit of China-US trade war. The country’s leather sector posted a surge of 13.84 per cent to US $ 6.16 billion in 2018, which was US $ 5.41 billion in 2017.
However, the overall export revenue declined by 12 per cent to US $ 1.08 billion in FY’18 from US $ 1.23 billion in FY’17, as per the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data.
The industry leaders and analysts have affirmed the ongoing US-China trade war for the rise in earnings from US market. Furthermore, the government efforts in branding leather goods have drawn the attention of American as well as global buyers.
Fearing the prolonged tension between these two countries, brands have started to shift sourcing form other countries to avoid losses. Also, the rising production costs in China due to increased wages have emerged as a benefitting factor for Bangladesh.
“It is not so easy to increase productivity in case of leather goods compared to synthetic footwear,” said Abdul Momen Bhuiyan, Deputy Managing Director, Apex Footwear Ltd.
Various international Bangladeshi leather footwear and leather goods sourcing shows have helped international buyers get a clearer picture of the quality of the footwear made in Bangladesh along with the prices, which are much lesser than China.
In order to maintain the orders incoming from US, Bangladesh leather manufacturers have to work towards becoming compliant and concentrate of increasing quality in their products. The completion of the Savar Leather Industrial Park will also add to the advantages of the sector. Former caretaker government advisor AB Mirza Azizul Islam suggested negotiating and increasing business communication with US retailers and brands to bring more work orders to Bangladesh.
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