Special Correspondent

International fair opens in Kolkata today

KOLKATA: A team of Italian designers have arrived here to assist small manufacturers of leather goods to increase their exports mainly through better design. They are here to attend the 12th International Leather Goods Fair which opens on Friday. They will help in making better designs and also with prototypes, A. K. Chatterjee, Chairman, Council For Leather Exports (eastern region), said.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, he said leather goods exports were expected to grow by 10 per cent in 2006-07 over 2005-06, touching Rs. 1,900 crore. The eastern region accounts for the bulk of the production and exports of leather goods, the major markets being the U.S. and the European Union member countries.

Footwear Park

The fair will showcase products such as handbags, wallets, portfolios, rucksacks, briefcases, belts, sports goods, leather upholstery, industrial gloves, footwear, garments and travel goods. Foreign buyers from the U.K., Germany, Spain, France, Poland, the U.S., Canada, Latin America, South Africa and New Zealand are set to visit the three-day fair for sourcing products.

Meanwhile, efforts were on to set up a footwear park in the State, Mani Almal, President, Indian Footwear Components Manufacturers Association, said. He said the association had been shown two plots of land one near Haldia and the other near the Calcutta Leather Compled (CLC) for setting up the park. The industry, it was learnt, preferred a site near the CLC.

Of the three such proposed parks, the one at Agra has been shelved while the Chennai project is under implementation. Mr. Chatterjee said about 200 acres was required for the park which would have a 50-acre cluster for small units.