The commerce ministry is going to give permission to four companies to export rawhides and wet blue ahead of Eid-ul-Azha, for the first time in 32 years.
There has been a ban on the export of rawhides since independence, aimed at protecting the domestic tannery industry. The export of wet blue has also not been permitted since 1989.
The export ban will be lifted considering that rawhides of sacrificial animals were thrown away in 2019 and 2020 for not getting fair prices.
Many companies submitted applications for permission over the last nine months, and the ministry has finally decided to allow four of them to export rawhides and wet blue in the fiscal year 2020-21. A gazette notification will be issued soon on this.
Officials at the export wing of the commerce ministry said Leather Industries of Bangladesh Limited had sought permission to export 3.70 crore sq ft of wet blue to Italy in the next three years, but the ministry would authorize export of 1 crore sq ft instead this fiscal year.
Kalam Brother Tannery Ltd will be able to export 60 lakh sq ft of wet blue to Thailand, China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Italy, Spain and Germany. It applied to get permission to export 1.55 crore sq ft of tanned leather over a period of three years.
AKS Investment China will get an approval to export 20 lakh sq ft of wet blue, and Union Venture Ltd will have the ministry's consent to export 300 tonnes of rawhides every month to Cambodia, Vietnam and China.
Sajedul Khair, director of Kalam Brothers Tannery, earlier said China, India, Japan and three other countries from the European Union had shown interest in purchasing wet blue from the company.
"Buyers from Covid-affected countries are showing interest in importing wet blue from us. This is a very positive development for the leather industry in Bangladesh."
An official of the ministry said the permission would be given to prevent further wastage of skins of sacrificial animals.
The companies that are going to get permission will have to export the given amounts of rawhides and wet blue by 30 June.
To continue to export the leather items, these companies have to submit fresh applications. Other companies can also apply if they want to export rawhides and wet blue after June.
President of Bangladesh Tanners Association Md Shaheen Ahamed said the demand for leather had fallen in the domestic market. Many have processed or unprocessed leather left in their stocks for two years. So, export of rawhides or wet blue will not engender any crisis of leather in the country.
Ministry officials said they would monitor impacts on the local market and decide whether to continue issuing permits.
Usually, the skin of a large cow is 35-40 sq ft, of a medium size is 25-30 sq ft and of small size is 16-20 sq ft. Two crore sq ft of leather will come from about 6 lakh cows of large size.