Footwear industry gears to meet 80% of local needs | Sunday Observer

Footwear industry gears to meet 80% of local needs

The labour intensive footwear and leather industry is working towards an ambitious target of meeting 80 percent of local needs in the next two years. To this end it calls on the government to provide a level playing field as Sri Lanka is considered as a dumping ground for cheap products by many countries at present.

“We have the ability and capacity to cater to local demand as our skilled labour is competent to meet the evolving trends in the industry. The importance of this sector as an industry that saves foreign exchange highlights the need to provide State support in terms of technology infusion and product process modification to fuel growth,” President Sri Lanka Footwear and Leather Product Manufacturers’ Association, P.G.D. Nimalasiri told the 12th edition of the Footwear and Leather Fair 2020 at the BMICH Colombo last week.

With enormous potential to contribute more towards the economy by generating employment as well as local production volume, this cluster sector accounts for 40 to 70 percent value addition where over 300,000 people are involved directly and indirectly 700,000 people depending on the entire value chain, he said.

This domestic industry has the maturity to move into the international market and we need to encourage the industrialists to harness opportunities as there is a huge scope to generate foreign exchange through niche market products, he said.

While assuring support to develop the SME sector and footwear and leather industry in particular, the Director General, Export Development Board, Jeevani Siriwardena said, “Support will be provided to the industrialists to develop products to meet export market requirements. To this end, the authorities will seek the services of expert foreign consultants to facilitate knowledge transfer.

The industry value of the footwear and leather sector exceeds Rs. 100 billion and over 75 million pairs are needed annually to meet local demand.

The sectoral export contribution is at a low level of US $ 80 to 100 million with potential for significant contribution.

There are nearly 1,000 industrialists and over 10 exporters and endless opportunities are available to take the industry to the next level.

“The government is seriously looking at expanding the capacity of the SME sector for the export drive and has identified the footwear and leather sector to be an important focus area,” Minister of Small and Medium Business and Enterprise Development, Industries and Supply Chain Management, Wimal Weerawansa said.

The industry could benefit from the GSP+ facility and this opportunity should be taken to explore EU market.

The country could make inroads into the international market with high quality designers and skilled workforce.

To this end knowledge and technology needs could be provided by the experts who are knowledgeable about market trends, he said.

The government has in place an effective mechanism to prevent unnecessary dumping and will also work to provide facilities to source local raw materials.

The government is in the process of identifying a suitable location to set up a facility for tanning.

With a strong local supply chain in place, the industry is poised to take off to the next level to capture the international market in a big way, he said.

The three-day exhibition with the participation of companies from India, Pakistan and China concludes today.

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