LAHORE: Pakistan, India and Bangladesh can become indispensable in the leather sector if they join hands, said the chairman of India Council of Leather Exports on Saturday.
The three states have the biggest wealth of leather raw material and manufactured products, Muhammad Rafeeque Ahmad told newsmen after delivering a keynote speech at a group dialogue on ‘South Asia: Future Hub for Leather and Footwear’, arranged as part of the ongoing three-day Pakistan Mega Leather Show at Lahore’s Expo Centre.
Mr Ahmad said that though the balance of trade was in favour of New Delhi at present, it could be balanced if Pakistan granted most favoured nation (MFN) status to India and eased visa restrictions, which would help increase Indian businessmen visits to Pakistan for more trade activities.
He said the main obstacle to trade between the two countries was very few exchange of business delegations, due mainly to visa restrictions.
Earlier, participants of a group dialogue urged the governments of both countries to give maximum freedom to manufacturers and exporters to showcase leather and leather products across the border.
Mr Ahmad, who was the guest of honour at the dialogue, highlighted the different aspects of Indian leather and footwear industry during his presentation.
“We have been holding leather show in Chennai for the last 28 years and last year we received delegates from over 40 countries to display their products and strike deals with Indian counterparts,” he said.
Other speakers of the group dialogue were Pakistan Tanners Association chairman Muhammad Musaddiq, Pakistan Footwear Manufacturers Association chairman Muhammad Younas, Agha Saiddain of Royal Leather Industries Ltd Lahore, and Umer Saeed of Service Industries Lahore.
Mr Younas told Dawn that over 200 local companies and 50 foreign companies had set up 300 stalls at the show. He said most foreign companies belonged to European countries like France, Germany and Italy, while others were from Indian, China, Korea and Taiwan. He said no company appeared from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
“We have announced second leather show in January 2016 and 50 per cent more foreign companies are expected to attend,” he said.
According to a news release issued by the organisers of the show, the dialogue was the first of its kind in Pakistan for the leather sector to provide a great platform for close understanding and collaboration between the two countries. The dialogue mainly emphasised on encouraging people’s movement between the two countries.
Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2015