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Footwear exports fetch $651m in 9 months

  • Sohel Hossain Patwary
  • 13 April, 2019 12:00 AM
  • Print news

Footwear sector is strengthening its footing in the international market despite the negative growth of Bangladeshi leather products in export markets.

Footwear exports totalled $651 million in the last nine months of the current FY 2018-19, which is around 10 per cent higher than the same period last fiscal.

The country’s footwear industry rapidly grew in the past decade. Exports soared from $68 million in 2004 to $870 million in FY 2017-18. This year’s target for footwear exports has been fixed at $860 million.

The government is targeting $2 billion from footwear and leather exports by 2018 and $5 billion by 2021.

Meanwhile, leather and leather products saw a negative export growth in the last nine months of current fiscal. This thriving sector also saw a sharp fall in export earnings in the fiscal year as well. In July-March of FY 2018-19, leather and footwear exports slipped 9.08 per cent year-on-year to $771.69 million.

Exporters and market insiders said Bangladeshi footwear products are increasingly becoming popular among international buyers, resulting in a sharp rise in footwear exports over the last few years.

According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, footwear exports to the United States, Germany, Italy, Spain and other EU countries are increasing gradually. The growth is even higher than that of large footwear exporting countries like China, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Local footwear manufacturers, however, said compliance issues are still holding back Bangladeshi footwear exporters in attracting large international buyers.

Leather footwear exports to the US, one of the largest destinations for Bangladeshi footwear, witnessed a positive growth last year. However, footwear exports to other countries saw a declining trend.

According to recent data of US Office of Textiles and Apparel, leather footwear exports from Bangladesh to the US registered a 17.70 per cent rise to $133.25 million in 2018, although the sector’s total exports plunged 12 per cent during the period.

Last year, Bangladesh earned $133.25 million from footwear exports, a rise of over $20 million from $113.33 million in the previous year.

In the same period, China, the largest footwear exporter to the US market, has seen a negative growth by around one per cent.

Saiful Islam, president of Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB), said Bangladesh is now promoting its footwear products through various means, including by organising mega expositions.

“Buyers and brands are slowly getting informed about the quality of Bangladeshi goods and types of footwear being produced here,” he said.

Government and private sector have to work together to keep up the upward trend in coming days, he said.

Mohiuddin Ahmed Mahin, president of Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association, echoed same. He said there are also challenges ahead as the international footwear market is highly competitive.