New export opportunities likely
TIRUCHI: East India (EI) leather, a vegetable-tanned leather produced by the tanneries in Tiruchi and Dindigul, has been approved and registered as an exclusive geographical product by the Geographical Indications Registry of the Union Ministry of Commerce.
The registration, under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act), 1999, would give the product an exclusive brand image such as the Basmati rice, Darjeeling Tea or Kancheepuram Silk Sarees and indicates the special quality or characteristic/reputation unique to the geographical location.
EI leather is used for manufacturing shoes and garments.
The registration was made recently based on a joint application filed by the Tiruchi and Dindigul tanners associations, V. S. M. Varis Mohideen, Secretary, Tiruchi Tanners Association, told The Hindu.
An exclusive logo has also been designed to go with the product.
The unique process and craftsmanship of producing EI leather (East India denoting its colonial legacy) has been adopted by the small-scale tanners in Tiruchi and Dindigul areas in Tamil Nadu for over a century.
Many units have been functioning here since 1850. EI leather dominated Indian leather exports till 1970.
After the advent of chrome-processed finished leather and focus on export of value-added products, it was pushed to the background.
Most product manufacturers imported leather because it was cheaper.
Many tanneries in Tiruchi have turned sick and the number of operational units has now come down to eight from around 25 units functioning until a few years back. But tanners here say that there was good scope for manufacturing niche products from EI leather.
With the tanneries producing the EI leather facing a crisis, owing to the free import policy on leather and the steep export duty of 15 per cent on EI leather, the registration was expected to open up opportunities, especially for exports.
But any revival could be possible only if the Centre conceded the industry’s long pending demand for abolishing the 15 per cent export duty.
The domestic offtake was low and stiff duty restricted exports though there was good demand for EI leather in foreign countries, especially Europe, Mr. Mohideen said.