CLE chairman wants industry to stregthen presence in US market

Chairan of Council of Leather Exports (CLE) Aqeel Ahmed addressing the media in Chennai Thursday. Executive director R Selvam is also seen.

Chennai: The Council of Leather Exports (CLE) held its 34th annual general meet here, where Panaruna Aqeel Ahmed took over as chairman while Sanjay Leekha was elected vice chairman of the council.

One of the major foreign exchange earners for the country, the Indian Leather and Footwear industry is currently the second largest producer of footwear, second largest exporter of leather garments and currently employs nearly 4.42 million people. The total turnover of the industry is $17.74 billion, with exports contributing $5.74 billion.

Aqeel Ahmed, who is also the Managing Director of Florence Shoe Company, said at the meet which was the first under the reconstituted committee, that the leather industry creates ‘Wealth from Waste’ as it produces value added products from hides and skins, which are a by-product of the meat industry.

In the meet, the chairman of the council stated his priorities for growth. He said, to tap India’s largest export market, the US, the industry is increasing capacities with the financial assistance from the government under Integrated Development of Leather Sector (IDLS) and also taking measures to attract overseas investments.

He said the Government of India has taken a number of measures for overall growth and development of leather industry. These include implementation of Rs 2,600 crore Indian Footwear, Leather and Accessories Development Programme (IFLADP) and providing financial assistance in key areas like capacity expansion and technological upgradation of production units.

Aqeel Ahmed further stated that the industry is expecting five to six per cent growth in exports during this year (2018-19) in Rupee terms, but added that the industry has the potential to achieve higher growth levels in the coming years.

CLE executive director, R Selvam, who spoke at the meet stated that the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of the Indian leather industry is its huge raw material base, strong products industry and huge labour availability.

NT Bureau