Footwear, leather industry eyes more exports | Sunday Observer

Footwear, leather industry eyes more exports

Sri Lanka’s footwear and leather sector saves Rs. 100 billion in foreign exchange annually. It manufactures 75 million pairs of shoes and slippers and looks forward to government support to make it a vibrant industry, President, Sri Lanka Footwear and Leather Products Manufacturing Association, P.G.D. Nimalsiri told guests at the opening of the Footwear and Leather Products exhibition at the BMICH last week.

“The government needs to safeguard this exchange-saving industry as it has achieved its targets. There are concerns such as low cess and lack of financial facilities for manufacturers. Illegal imports are also an issue that needs to be addressed. Cess income should be used for the betterment of the industry,” he said.

Training centres which are not functioning properly at present should be made use of to develop the industry and disseminate new knowledge and technology to ensure enhanced market opportunities.

As Sri Lanka’s footwear and leather product market is small and saturated, industrialists need to look into the possibility of capturing the global market. It is important to be competitive in terms of cost and quality, he said.

“Although the footwear industry has made progress over the past few years, it needs to adopt the latest technological developments in the manufacturing process to be more competitive. The products mostly cater to local needs and we need to seek foreign collaboration to enter international markets,” he said.

The government has set up a Rs. 100 million fund to develop the industry which could be used by manufacturers.

“If we are to compete in international markets, we have to produce products high in quality and low in cost. Manufactures also need to keep up with the latest trends and technology,” Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishrad Budrdeen said in a message.

It is necessary make this a unique industry as demand for its products will grow in the future. The GSP concessions have supported the footwear industry and duty-free access for leather products to the US, has created a booming ground for local production, he said.

The 11th edition of the Footwear and Leather Products Fair concludes today. The exhibition comprised 230 stalls mainly of Sri Lankan manufactures.

There were also product display stalls by India, China and Pakistan. There were design competitions and fashion shows during the three-day exhibition. The exhibition has grown in capacity since its launch in 2007 when there were only 140 stalls.

The exhibition has been organised by the Sri Lanka Footwear and Leather Products Manufactures’ Association with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Export Development Board and the Industrial Development Board.