The country’s leather exports grew marginally by 1 per cent year-on-year to USD 444 million in June this year due to weak demand in the western markets like the US and Europe.

In June last year, these exports stood at USD 439 million, according to the data provided by the Council for Leather Exports (CLE).

“The demand for leather exports has been sluggish in traditional markets including US and Europe,” CLE Executive Director R Ramesh Kumar said.

To reduce dependence on traditional markets and to create niche for the products in new ones, Mr. Kumar said, exporters are exploring emerging markets including Latin America, Russia and Japan.

The major markets for leather and its products are US, UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain.

Among the items which witnessed growth in June 2013, leather garment saw maximum jump of 8.3 per cent, followed by saddlery and harness at 5.71 per cent, footwear components at 5.5 per cent and leather goods at 2 per cent.

During April-June this year, leather exports grew by 3.02 per cent to USD 1.20 billion as against the same period previous year.

The Council expects the country’s leather exports to touch the USD 14 billion level by 2017 and may double jobs in the sector to 5 million.

At present, the industry employs 2.5 million people, 70 per cent of whom are women, mainly in leather hubs like Agra, Kanpur, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore and Puducherry.

During the last fiscal, leather exports grew over 4 per cent year-on-year to USD 5 billion in 2012-13.

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