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Sunday, Feb 10, 2002

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Big euro notes fatten exporters' wallets

Indrani Dutta

KOKATA, Feb. 9

THEY were straining every sinew to prepare for history's largest currency changeover operations - printing new notes and minting new coins for the ATMs of countries participating in the changeover to the Euro on January 1, 2002.

What they had almost forgotten was that new "moneybags'' would be needed to cater to the larger-size notes. In the nick of time, that is, around September 2001, with only three months to go for the introduction of the euro, department stores across Europe swung into action.

This is precisely when the launch of the new currency in 12-member countries of the European Union began to translate into good business for Indian leather exporters.

Major leather goods exporters confirmed a spurt in orders for leather wallets bigger than the standard sizes that were being exported. "We have already serviced some bulk orders received from wholesalers in Europe who wanted bigger wallets since the euro was larger in size than the existing currencies,'' the proprietor of Plaza Exports Pvt Ltd, Mr S. Ganeriwalahe, said.

The 12 countries, which have converted to the euro as a single currency for the EU, have a population of over 300 million. The currency is available in seven denominations with the sizes increasing with value.

Wallets come under the category of leather goods, which have a sizeable presence in India's leather export basket. The eastern region leads in export of leather goods, which earned Rs 1,102 crore of foreign exchange between April and October 2001.

Sources told Business Line that the largest number of orders have been received from Germany, India's biggest market for leather wallets accounting for a 34 per cent share. UK is also a big market for India wallet exporters but until now it has not signed up for the euro.

However, it is not only the leather goods sector which has benefited from larger euro sizes, there has been a 40 per cent increase in exports of finished leather from India in the April to October 2001 period and the exporting community see a link between this and increased demand for bigger wallets for the upmarket stores.

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