In its efforts to develop the leather industry and to promote all stakeholders, the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) in association with Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and Industrial Development Board (IDB) organised a three day footwear and leather recently.
This annual fair, which was held for the third consecutive year, consisted of 160 trade stalls showcasing a wide range of high quality natural leather products including footwear, travel goods, fashion accessories, raw material, machinery and equipment used in leather industry, and other related services.
During the fair the organisers have bridged the gap between the SMEs with large scale manufacturers, creating awareness and highlighting both local and international market potential.
Footwear industry is a key contributor to Sri Lankan economy. It provides an estimated 20,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities through seven large scale exporters, 30 medium size manufacturers, and 3,000 small entrepreneurs.
They produce a wide range of high quality footwear for both local and international markets using natural leather, canvas, rubber. Leading global brands such as Marks & Spencer, Bata France, H.H. Browns, Clarks, Aerosols, and Nike have already started sourcing from Sri Lanka due to its high quality.
In addition to leather shoes, Sri Lanka produces leather gloves, wallets, bags, purses, belts, and key tags. In this sector there are five large scale manufacturers who export their products followed by an estimated 1,000 small and medium size businesses catering to global brands such as Play Boy, Laurel, and Helen Kaminski. There are 11 tanneries producing 25 tons of leather per day, which is consumed by these manufacturers.
During the recent past the Government offered several concessions to assist the footwear and leather industries in its recent budget. The cess on imported shoes was raised from Rs. 100 to Rs. 400 to safeguard the local industry form the influx of the imported shoes.
The raw material, component and machinery used in the industry were made duty free.