Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: A total of 137 overseas companies and 237 Indian companies will take part in the 23rd India International Leather Fair 2008, which is aimed at increasing India’s trade in leather and leather products with the European Union and the United States.

Talking to reporters on Wednesday, Council for Leather Exports chairman Muktharul Amin said that currently 64 per cent of India’s produce is exported to the European Union and 10.4 per cent to the U.S. “Our deals with European buyers are in dollars, so it is not helping us. We are trying to negotiate the deal in other currencies and expand the market width and enter other countries as well.”

During the period from April to September last year, India’s leather and leather products export stood at $1.7 billion as against $1.5 billion in the corresponding period last year, a growth of 9.4 per cent in dollar terms and a decline of 3 per cent in rupee terms. “We would end the year with a turnover of $3.3 billion as against $2.98 billion during 2006-2007,” Mr. Amin said.

The four-day fair, which begins on Thursday and which is being organised by the Council for Leather Exports and the India Trade Promotion Organisation at the Chennai Trade Centre, will be inaugurated by V. Krishnamurthy, Chairman, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council. He will also distribute the CLE Export Excellence Awards for 2006-2007. A trend pavilion, ‘Flavour of the World,’ projecting the future trends, colours and style will be set up by the Central Leather Research Institute, the ITPO and the Council for Leather Exports. Daily Happenings, a newsletter, will be brought out on the days of the fair.

“Last year, we received business enquiries worth Rs. 400 crore and this year, it will be 30 per cent more. The 2008 fair would be the biggest one in terms of the exhibition area with 8,000 square metres as against 7,300 square metres last year.”

The Council for Leather Exports has invited 58 overseas delegates from 22 countries. It has also organised business-to-business meeting between the overseas buyers and Indian companies. About 26 Indian companies have sought appointments with the visiting buyers. CLE executive director K. Elangovan said the common testing centre and design laboratory at the footwear components park at Irungattukottai could be used by manufacturers from mid-February.