Leather Industry Analysis

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The leather industry is one of the major contributors to Pakistan’s exports. Since its establishment in 1947, the industry has progressed from exporting raw hides to more value-added products. The industry consists of six sub-sectors, including tanning, leather footwear, and leather garments. Leather garments rank highest among leather exports, followed by finished leather and leather gloves. However, the trend of exporting finished leather poses a threat to Pakistan’s industry, and there is a need to diversify and expand in value-added leather products. Despite a 140% increase in overall exports in the last decade, the industry is facing severe competition and inconsistent exports in recent years. To maintain a 15% growth rate, the industry requires sufficient investment and trained manpower.

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Out of the seven major exports of Pakistan, Leather is one of the major contributors. Although the industry started it journey way back in the 1947 since then it has moved from exporting raw hides and skins to more value added products. At the time of independence in 1947, there were only a few leather tanneries in Pakistan, which were operating on a small scale producing mostly sole leather. During 1950s, some well-equipped tanneries were set up at Karachi and Lahore, while during 60s and 70s more units were established at Hyderabad Kasur, Sialkot, Multan, Sahiwal and Gujranwala.

Starting with the production of picked and vegetable tanned hides and skins, the tanneries, today, are producing not only wet blue and crust, but also fully finished leather. The leather finishing and made ups industries represent an important sector in Pakistan, contributing almost more than half a billion US dollars in foreign exchange earnings to the national exchequer. The leather industry consists of six sub-sectors namely, Tanning, Leather. Footwear, Leather Garments, Leather Gloves, Leather Shoe Uppers, and Leather Goods.

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The Tanning industry plays a vital role in the progress of these sub-sectors by providing the basic material i. e. leather. Leather garments constituting 52. 9% (US$306. 6 million) of the total value of leather export, rank highest among exports of leather industry, followed by finished leather constituting 35. 8% (US$207. 8 million) of the total export earnings. Export of leather gloves, comprising mostly of industrial gloves, rank third at 4. 70% (US$27. 2 million). In recent years, Pakistan’s exports of dress/fancy glove have been on the rise.

Pakistan’s export of footwear makes only about 4. 8% (US$28. 2 million) of the total leather export. The above trend in the export finished leather poses a threat to the Pakistan’s industry yet it also provides Pakistan’s Leather Industry an opportunity to diversify and expand in value added leather products. From the export data of one decade it appears that overall exports of leather and leather products have increased by about 140% during the last 10 years, whereas annual exports in the last five years have been inconsistent, rather showing downward trend in the last couple of years.

As for the figures released for the year 1997-98 by Export Promotion Bureau, the situation seems to be alarming on the export front of the leather sector of Pakistan. This is principally due to severe competition in this sector. However, during the last 10 years the demand of leather and leather products increased at the rate of 15% per annum. On the other hand this sub-sector has already reached almost the maximum capacity utilization. Therefore, if 15% growth rate is maintained in future, then sufficient investment and trained manpower would be required for this industry to cope with the ever-increasing demand of leather products

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