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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

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Commodities


Sluggish trend in leather

K. Asadullah Basha

A SLUGGISH trend was witnessed in the leather market last week. It is expected to continue the next couple of weeks also. While the holidays in the European markets are said to be one of the reasons, the ``uncontrolled and continued'' hike in the prices of raw, wet blue hides and skins and semi-finished leather has forced the manufacturer-exporters of finished leather and leather products to defer their purchases. Not only that, rumors of duty on the export of finished leather has also deterred signing of new contracts.

Enquiries from abroad are restricted and no buyer is prepared to pay more than the existing price levels for any kind of articles -- be it in leather or its products. Due to these reasons, even some of the leading buying houses have adopted a ``wait and watch'' attitude.

Enquiries were reported for imported FC Sheep nappa mostly in black colour from Australia. An average of 6 and up TR selection by sea was quoted between $1.55 and $1.65. Good demand was reported for aniline and semi-aniline sheep cabretta from countries like France and Italy ranging between $2 and $2.20 for top grades. SC goat suede medium selection with an average of 3-5 sq ft in regular colour was quoted $1.50-1.60 with the same selection and area in F/C in pastle shades quoted 10 cents more for Italy and Korea. There were enquiries for FC goat upper lining both in pigmented and aniline finish from Italy and Portugal. Pigmented lining selection GH/IJ was quoted at $0.85-95 and for natural $1.05-1.15.

Good demand is expected for shoe uppers with an average price level of $4-10 in volume and demand for a higher bracket range of $10-20 is also on card for selective ranges of reputed brands from European and Far-Eastern countries.

Considering the tremendous opportunity offered by the US market for our leather and leather products, especially footwear, the Council for Leather Exports has drawn up a comprehensive export promotion and market development programme, which includes prod uct-specific fairs, buyer-seller meets, undertaking publicity and promotional activities for enhancing the present Indian leather market share level from the present 1.42 per cent.

As a part of this programme the Council and ITPD are jointly organising the participation of Indian exporters in the August 2001 edition of WSA Shoe Show at Las Vegas, US, to be held from August 2 to 5, 2001. This is considered one of the main fairs for footwear in US.

As far as the rumour of duty on finished leather exports is concerned, it has created a kind of panic and a sense of uncertainty among the manufacturer-exporters of finished leathers. Industry experts say that though a kind of lobbying is there for the d uty, the Centre might not succumb to the pressures from a lobby.

Some say that it has been felt necessary to curb the clandestine exports of semi-finished leather which is being exported in the guise of finished leather. While raw, pickle, wet blue and crust leather exports attract 60 per cent duty, the export of E.I. Tanned leather attracts 15 per cent duty. Clandestine exports are reportedly on the rise, and, so, the only way to curb this is to impose a duty of 15 per cent on the export of `finished leather' itself and increase the duty on E.I. exports from 15 to 3 0 per cent.

At the same time, there is an argument that while the import of any kind of leather right from raw to finished leather does not attract any import duty, why should there be any duty on any kind of leather exports. Some are of the view that duty should be imposed on imports too. Some suggest a minimal duty of 5 per cent or a maximum of 10 per cent, irrespective of any kind of leather without any norms.

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