Special Correspondent

India now caters to high-end market

  • Mass market dominated by China, Vietnam
  • Currently, 90% of Indian footwear exports cater to men Mass market dominated by China, Vietnam Indian footwear exports now restricted to men

    CHENNAI: Get into the American footwear market, Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh advised the country's leather industry on Tuesday.

    While 63 per cent of the country's footwear exports went to Europe, only 12 per cent were for the American market.

    The Indian footwear, priced in the range of $ 15-20, was catering to the high-end segment. "We have to migrate from high-end to mass market," he said.

    At present, the mass market, where the price of footwear was in the range of $ 4-8, was dominated by China and Vietnam.

    Historic opportunity

    Visualising a "historic opportunity" for the country, he said Europe imposed 10 per cent anti-dumping duty on Vietnam and 16 per cent on China. This would be in force till August 2008. As a result, footwear from the two Asian nations would be costlier. "This opens market opportunities for us in the mass market [segment]."

    Currently, 90 per cent of the Indian footwear exports were for men. As the footwear of women and children constituted 50 per cent of the overall market, the Indian industry should devote attention to a major chunk of the segment, the Union Minister said.

    Growth rate

    On leather exports last year, he said there was a 15 per cent growth rate. In 2006-2007, the exports totalled $ 3.1 billion, of which footwear components and footwear accounted for 38 per cent. The target for 2010-2011 was $ 7 billion and in respect of the footwear segment, it was 56 per cent. The increase would mean generation of half a million jobs. Now, the footwear segment employed 1.7 million persons.

    Rupee appreciation

    The Minister said the appreciating rupee had begun to put Indian leather exports at a disadvantage compared to the Chinese.

    He listened to concerns expressed by members of the Council for Leather Exports (CLE) and promised that he would apprise the Union Finance Minister of them.

    Noting that the textile sector too was hit, he called for reducing transaction cost of the exports so that the country did not lose out to Vietnam and China.

    Support to two States

    Now, the leather industry was concentrated in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir were the two States where there was ample availability of raw hides.

    The CLE decided to extend support to the two States to develop value-added leather industry.

    As a sequel to this, the Council would hold its next meeting in Srinagar on July 3.

    The Union Minister said that as up-to-date data on handloom exports was not available, a separate category would be introduced by the customs authorities to indicate the quantum of handloom exports.