In India, 2,016 million units of leather accessories and 1,900 million pairs of footwear are manufactured every year.
Amid the US-China trade war, Indian leather goods manufacturers are looking at an opportunity to increase trade with the US as Prime Minister Narendra Modi strives to revive the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for trade with America.
According to Ramesh Juneja, president of the CLC (Calcutta Leather Complex) Tanners Association, Chinese leather goods attract 32% duty in the US. “Our exports to the US attract only 8% duty and this may become zero if the GSP is revived,” he said.
West Bengal finance, industry and IT minister Amit Mitra said at an India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) programme that India’s trade with the US in leather goods is only worth $1 million annually compared to China’s $32 million. “We have all the opportunity to get access to the US market,” he said.
In India, 2,016 million units of leather accessories and 1,900 million pairs of footwear are manufactured every year. Of these, 43% are made in Kolkata. Bantala or Calcutta Leather Complex is fast growing into the world’s largest leather goods manufacturing hub with the gradual shift of Kanpur leather industry to Kolkata, Mitra said.
The Kolkata Port Trust’s marketing division has a hand in bringing Kanpur leather units to Kolkata and draw a chunk of leather cargo to the port.
Bantala houses 370 tanneries on 205 acres and 60 leather goods manufacturing units on 30 acres. For 30 companies which have shifted from Kanpur to Kolkata, 9 more acres have been allocated. Around 80 acres of land will be required for 100 more units which are willing to shift from Kanpur to Kolkata and in the next two years, there will be 300 more tanneries operating in Bantala, attracting an investment of Rs 80,000 crore. Jobs in Bantala will go up from the present 2.2 lakh to 5 lakh and the turnover of Calcutta Leather Complex in Bantala should touch a whopping Rs 30,000 crore, Mitra said.
Calcutta Leather Complex registered a turnover of Rs 13,500 crore in FY19 and has been the most successful among the 100 industrial clusters set up by West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC).
At present, the state is focusing on a cluster at Panagarh which has been set up for units manufacturing building material. Mitra, at a CII programme, said 35 items for building are made in West Bengal but there are 25 items that have to be brought from outside. Since housing and realty sectors are moving in a big way and 97% of the space has been occupied in malls, West Bengal is the ideal location where building material manufacturing units should come up, Mitra added.