Dhaka fair takes place16 March 2003
The 5th Dhaka International Leather Fair 2003 (DILF) took place at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from January 27-29. While inaugurating the fair, the Prime Minister, Begum Khaleda Zia, announced a $40 million project to build a leather industry estate under a comprehensive plan for giving a boost to the third biggest foreign exchange industry of Bangladesh. It is also aimed at controlling the pollution of the city. She disclosed that about 185 companies will be accommodated in this leather industrial city which is expected to be completed by the year 2005. Around 55 local leather companies manufacturing finished leather and leathergoods and footwear as well as 27 foreign companies, mostly the sellers of chemicals and machinery, participated in the fair, which was organised jointly by Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association and Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA). Addressing the participants, Begum Khalida Zia hoped that locally branded leathergoods would capture the international market soon. The Prime Minister laid stress on the need to improve the quality of leather products and make them cost effective to meet the buyer's demand. She said that her government had reduced the export loan rate to 7% by identifying the export orientated leather sector as a thrust sector in the government's incentives package. She also urged tannery owners and exporters to avail themselves of the incentives provided by her government to further improve the leather industry in the country. She said that the government had already imposed a ban on the export of wet-blue leather in order to give a boost to export-orientated leather industries. The present government, she said, has given due importance to the leather industry as it will create more employment by earning foreign exchange. Begum Khalida Zia, who has been in power for the past 15 months, promised to give all possible assistance to boost the exports of finished leather and leather manufactured goods. She invited foreign entrepreneurs to invest in this sector and set up industries as joint ventures. The Prime Minister said that Bangladesh would not only benefit economically but also earn an international reputation if Bangladesh goods found greater access to global markets. Also speaking on this occasion, Finance Minister Saifur Rahman did not accept the demand for a cash subsidy to the sector. He said that government subsidy alone cannot make an industry flourish, although it may bring temporary results. He advised the local entrepreneurs to develop real entrepreneurship and produce quality and cost effective products to face the challenge of globalisation. Saifur Rahman pleaded for the production of cost-effective quality leather products to compete in the global markets. He expressed his disappointment about the current quality and cost of local products and urged local entrepreneurs to produce quality and reduce excessive profit margins. Saifur Rahman gave assurance that duties and taxes would be reduced on various raw materials and advised business leaders to take out soft loans from private banks. He advised local entrepreneurs to improve the entrepreneurship and face the challenge of globalisation, making the nation competitive in the world market. Commerce Minister Amir Hashmi Mahmud Chowdhry said he was concerned that the production capacity of the industry was being under utilised.