Traders are awaiting the opportunity to export wet-blue leather, subject to government conditions, to avert an impending collapse of leather industry and to free the tannery owners from a hostage-like situation.
Recently, the traders are seeing a glimmer of hope as the government has allowed them to export wet-blue leather again, subject to conditions.
Traders said the decision to export wet-blue hides is timely as it can be preserved for a long time which also ensures good quality. However, to seize the opportunity, they want the benefit of getting bank loans to break the syndicate business.
Chattogram Chamra Babsayi Samity, and former secretary of leather hoarder association Kader Khan said, “We can break the carter business if the government makes way for us to export rawhides or wet-blue skin declaring it a separate industry.”
However, the samity secretary RobiulAlam told Bangladesh Post, “This facility should be a temporary arrangement, because when our tannery estate will be ready, we will need a huge volume of hides,”
“Once the 250 tannery units are ready to go into production, it will surely contribute to the Prime Minister’s dream of earning US$ 5 billion from exporting leather and leather goods. As a result, we will need a massive quantity of rawhides in days to come. During that time, I hope rawhides will not rot on the streets,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Ministry Secretary said that the ministry has started contacting foreign countries on exporting hides. Commerce Secretary Zafar Uddin said, “The country's businessmen will export hides. The government is here to make an easy way of doing business.”
It is to be noted, during the end of the eighties, the rawhide traders had the opportunity to export wet-blue leather abroad. But later, the then government-backed down due to the opposition of the tannery owners.
The market value of the country's leather exports is US$ one billion. Once the country's rawhides had a huge demand in Europe and America, but the door closed due to the increasing environmental pollution. At present, it can only be exported to China, where the crust and the finished leather price is lower.
However, the concerned businessmen fear that no organization in the country has received the certificate of the International Buyers' Alliance Leather Working Group, so there is hardly any opportunity to export skin.
Bangladesh Tanners Association chairman, MdShaheen Ahmed informed the media that without any discussion the government decided to export rawhides. Such a decision just two days before the Eid, and without proper planning, will not bring any value, he added."
Earlier, the government fixed the price of raw cowhide at Tk 35-40 per square foot in the capital and Tk 28-32 outside Dhaka, while the prices of goatskin have been fixed at Tk 13-15 per square foot across the country while that of she-goat at Tk 10-12.
According to the traders information, this year's government fixed rawhide prices is 20 to 29 percent lower than that of previous year..
Due to tanner's syndication and failure to preserve rawhides at the right time, huge rawhides were not sold thus wasted across the country, wearhouse keepers and seasonal traders said.
Commerce Minister TipuMunshi told Bangladesh Post, "To ensure fair price of rawhides we have talked to banks on loan facilities. They have given letters, so that at least this time, traders are given financial benefits. If no one buys rawhides, we will open the door for export to all so that a fair price is ensured”.
“At present, the government does not have the capacity to store rawhides in the country. In that case, if someone wants to store it locally for some time, and then sell it when they get a good price, we will cooperate with all kinds of facilities for him,” Munshi added.