The Sunday Leader

Footwear, Leather Exports Double Within One Year

Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry & Commerce (R) and Champika Premadasa, Deputy Minister of Industry & Commerce (C) inspect an item on display introduced to them by Sithendra Senaratne, Chairman of Organising Committee of Footwear and Leather Fair 2015 at the Seventh Edition of Footwear and Leather Fair by EDB at BMICH

Sri Lanka’s footwear and leather exports have doubled within a short period of one year and posted the highest revenues so far in recent times.

According to Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce, the USD 51 million export revenue in 2013 from this sector have more than doubled in 2014 to USD 110 million showing this sector’s strong revenue potential.

“This performance supports the export promotion efforts of the 100-day program of President Maithripala Sirisena as well,” said Minister Bathiudeen on Friday, February 06 in Colombo addressing the seventh edition of annual Footwear and Leather Fair organized by EDB and held at BMICH, Colombo.

Having successfully completed six previous editions, the EDB is organizing the latest event, which will close on Sunday, February 8. The event is supported by the Industrial Development Board (IDB), Sri Lanka Footwear and Leather Products Manufacturers’ Association (SLFLPM), as well as other industry stakeholders. Also attending the opening session were government officials and members of the diplomatic community.

“I wish to commend the more than 40,000 strong workforce in this sector as well as producers and award-winning Sri Lankan footwear exporters in Sri Lanka,” said Minister Bathiudeen, and added: “They are successfully supplying to global footwear brands such as JC Penny, John Lewis, and Bata Switzerland and to such competitive markets as the Italian market.
As you are aware the leather and footwear industry of Sri Lanka has been identified by my Ministry as a thrust industry for development. Ten large export companies, 30 medium companies and about 3,000 small manufacturers have been engaged in this sector, contributing to its increasing exports growth. The increasing demand for our products creates the need for more raw material and inputs. India has become a steady supplier of raw material to this sector.”

The export revenues from F&L sector witnessed steady growth over the years. Total exports of F&L in 2010 which stood at $35.64 million have tripled to $110 million in 2014, which is also a YoY growth of 215% over 2013 values. Leading three markets for Sri Lanka’s leather products are Germany, Canada and Spain while Australia, Vietnam and Italy lead for footwear.

Addressing the event, Sithendra Senaratne MD/CEO of Ceylon Leather Products PLC said: “During the last ten years, the tanners in the leather sector have been promised by various governments to relocate them all over the country. Finally, with Minister Bathiudeen’s help, we managed to get a 100-acre site from Mannar District and Minister Bathiudeen is kind enough to accommodate us in his own electorate. We thank him for this. We leave it in his good hands to safeguard this industry, which is a forex earning source.”

‘The Leather and Footwear industry is quite important to Lankan economy employing almost 40,000 workforce,” said Bandula Egodage (Chairman & CEO-EDB), addressing the event, and added: “We are upgrading tech capabilities for SME sector and encouraging value addition. We are not just selling footwear but selling fashion footwear. That is the value addition we are talking about,” he said.

Over 110 local and 11 foreign companies are displaying their products across 225 stalls at the seventh edition of annual Footwear and Leather Fair show which ends on Sunday, February 8. International buyers from Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, and India are present at this year’s fair.

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