The Council for Leather Exports (CLE) on Monday said it will sign a pact with Washington-based Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America and the United States Fashion Industry Association, with an aim to tap emerging opportunities in that market for domestic exporters.

CLE Chairman Aqeel Ahmed Panaruna said the Council is undertaking vigorous marketing activities to tap the emerging opportunities for the leather, leather products and footwear sector to boost exports.

“CLE will be signing MoUs (memoranda of understanding) with FDRA (Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America) and (US Fashion Industry Association) to further strengthen and enhance our market presence in the US market,” he said in a statement.

Speaking about export performance and prospects, Panaruna said that from September 2020 onwards, he expects normal exports and despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still a huge opportunity for India as it is now a preferred sourcing destination for major markets of the US and Europe.

Export of the sector from India declined from USD 5.69 billion in 2018-19 to USD 5 billion in 2019-20.

“Our major markets of Europe and USA (to which 70 per cent of our exports are directed) were severely affected by COVID-19. Many buyers are filing bankruptcy which is a huge concern, leading to cancellation of export orders. The exporters are facing difficulties on account of such export order cancellations because ECGC coverage (insurance) is not extended for pre-shipments.

“Hence, there is a need to evolve an ECGC (Export Credit Guarantee Corporation) policy to extend coverage for pre-shipment losses also caused by the pandemic and natural calamities,” he added.

From July, he expects recovery in exports growth but if lockdown continues, there may be further decline in outbound shipments.

Recently, CLE participated in the virtual B2B meetings with Korean and Vietnamese entrepreneurs and buyers. The Council is also in touch with the EU, the UK and Russian markets.

It will be holding virtual exhibitions with Russian buyers on July 20 and 21 and with Peru on August 5 and 6.

Panaruna said, “I am confident that we should still be able to reach USD 5 billion exports in the financial year 2020-21. Our industry is very keen to utilize the emerging opportunities and will undertake all possible efforts to revive our export growth.”

Source: PTI

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