Under the European Union Trade Related Technical Assistance (TRTA) programme, an EU delegation, led by Head of Cooperation Bernard Francois, inaugurated the Pakistan Leather Competitiveness Programme here on Tuesday.
Speaking on the occasion, Francois said the TRTA III programme, aimed at boosting growth of the leather industry that has been stagnant for the past few years, would facilitate leather production in Pakistan. “The main focus is on the value added leather sector,” he said.
The programme, funded by the EU, is intended to increase competitiveness of leather products through building capacity, training, improving market access and product diversification.
“The programme will engage actors from the leather industry, primarily the leather garment, glove and footwear manufacturers, and undertake initiatives to promote competitiveness and diversify exports,” Francois said.
In the wake of incentives given by the EU, including the GSP Plus status for Pakistan, the value added leather sector needs to seize the opportunity and become an even greater export earner.
The leather sector is a respectable exporter with shipments totalling $1.151 billion in the last financial year.
However, it faces fierce competition from regional players and encounters difficulties in coping with the changing demands of the international market.
Despite the disadvantages, Pakistan is a strong international player in leather apparel and accessories, controlling 7.6% of the world trade as well as in footwear, which constitutes 73% of the overall global leather industry.
“The leather competitiveness programme will go a long way in providing technical training to the leather exporters in an effort to meet the challenging needs of the international market,” Francois said.
Project Director Usman H Malik highlighted the activities envisaged under the programme. He said the three-year programme would support the manufacturers of leather products with focus on improving productivity.
He revealed that a competitiveness need assessment was already under way and based on its findings, firm interventions would start in early 2015.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2014.