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Leather sector hopeful of $4-b exports by 2010

Our Bureau

However, the industry's plea for separate drawback rates for leather woven mesh/mats and leather woven belts/braids has not been considered, Mr Ahmed said.

Kolkata , May 4

THE leather industry, hailing the new duty drawback rates announced by the Government, is now upbeat about achieving a leather products export target of $4 billion by 2010. The current exports stand at $2.1 billion.

The revised drawback schedule of items, effective from May 5, reflects an overall increase in rates for leather and leather products, including non-leather footwear.

Talking to Business Line on the new rates, Mr M. Rafeeque Ahmed, Chairman of the Council for Leather Exports, said the Government has taken full note of the detailed presentation made by the council to the high-level committee constituted by the Finance Ministry.

He said the council had undertaken a comprehensive exercise for compiling the input cost data and other relevant information from members across all regions, to justify an upward revision of drawback rates.

Expressing satisfaction over the hike in ceiling to realistic levels in several items, Mr Ahmed said the new rates would considerably neutralise the duty incidence suffered by the critical inputs. "This will provide a better competitive edge for Indian products in the international market." He said the new drawback schedule was now aligned with the harmonised system code of customs nomenclature to minimise the interpretation and classification problems at the

field level. Accordingly, the entries of finished leather, footwear, leather goods and garments, including gloves, have been bifurcated to align with the customs tariff headings, he said.

The footwear items have now been categorised on the basis of French point sizes for adults and children without gender specifications.

Mr Ahmed said the long pending request of the industry to notify drawback rates for items such as sofa covers and other upholstery items made from leather (now sought after in the overseas markets) have been considered, and separate rates have been notified for these items. However, the industry's plea for separate drawback rates for leather woven mesh/mats and leather woven belts/braids has not been considered, he said.

Mr Ahmed said the council had stressed on the need to adopt holistic procedures for determining new rates, in keeping with the status of the industry and its future potential for growth, both in export as well as employment generation.

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