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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2002

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Leather team finds China far ahead in infrastructure

Our Bureau

CHENNAI, Nov. 12

A DELEGATION from the Indian Finished Leather Manufacturers and Exporters Association (IFLMEA), which visited China, has concluded that Chinese advantage in leather exports lies in the great investment that has gone into infrastructure development.

According to an IFLMEA press release, road, power, water and port facilities in the industrial areas, and especially in the special economic development zones, can rival the best in the world.

Other factors that contribute to the spectacular Chinese performance include high labour discipline. Chinese labour productivity is 30 to 50 per cent higher than that in India.

The tanning and footwear factories have been set up to high standards, IFLMEA notes. Though similar tanneries and factories exist in India, "the sheer number and size of output of these factories in China are enormous."

China has a raw material advantage due to the 99 million pigskins that it handles every year.

According to IFLMEA, for the Indian industry to be able to compete with the Chinese industry, the Indian Government should accord greater emphasis to infrastructure development. Only this can help the leather industry to reduce its overhead expenses.

Further, managerial improvement in ports would have to be carried out so that more shipping lines carry goods directly from India. "In today's competitive environment, an export consignment cannot take more than 20 days to reach its destination."

Green channel customs clearance has to be given to import consignment of components. This can start with the star performers.

A flexible labour policy is required, according to IFLMEA. This would mean employers would be able to engage labour for a longer period during the busy season and temporarily lay off some during the lean period.

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