The government has planned to export rawhide to ensure fair prices, aiming to avoid any unexpected situation during the Eid-Ul-Adha.
"We are thinking to allow rawhides export as we had a bitter experience last year regarding the prices of sacrificial animal's rawhide", Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said on Thursday while addressing a virtual press conference to announce the export target for the fiscal year 2020-21.
The Ministry of Commerce will fix the prices of rawhides through a meeting with the stakeholders on July 26 to avert untoward incidents regarding prices, the minister added.
People had to dump a huge number of rawhides during last Eid-Ul-Adha, as buyers offered very low prices and in some cases. They were reluctant to buy sacrificial animal's rawhide.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) has suggested the government to fix the price of per square feet rawhide of cows to Tk30-40 and rawhide of goats to Tk15-25 this year.
The prices were Tk45-50 and Tk18-20 for cows and goats raw hides respectively last year.
BTTC submitted this proposal to the commerce secretary on July 2. The Business Standard has obtained a copy of the proposal.
BTTC also mentioned that they prepared the proposal after evaluating the international market price and considering the overall situation.
The commerce minister said, "We are working to ensure fair prices for the rawhides and trying to provide funds to the businessmen, who have a good track of transaction record and financial base."
"Last year there were three problems- effect of sudden relocation to Savar, incomplete infrastructure (internal roads) and incomplete Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP)," said Salman F Rahman, the private sector industry and investment adviser to the prime minister.
"Now the internal roads are 100 percent completed, CETP is almost done, only 5 percent remaining, which is scheduled to be completed before Eid," added Salman, who also a former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
"The Chinese workers, responsible to complete CETP, are still in their country due to Covid-19 outbreak, and the work is delayed a little bit due to the pandemic situation," he added.
PM's advisor hoped that the remaining work will be completed as soon as the workers join the work as China is returning to normalcy.
Challenge to manage solid waste
"In the leather industrial park, we have another big challenge to manage solid waste, which is currently dumping at a location," Salman F Rahman said.
"We have to find out the ways to consume those solid waste," he added.
"Leather export mainly required environmental compliance. Unfortunately, we didn't compile with that," said Saiful Islam, president of the Leather Goods and Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB).
He urged to allow large tanners to set up individual Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) at Savar Leather Industrial Park.
A number of tanners requested the government to approve the tannery owners' application for setting up a private effluent treatment plant, industry sources said.
The commerce minister also echoed Saiful, saying that the prime minister already talked to allow tanners to set up the individual ETP.
The minister said large tanneries also agreed to pay their regular charge for CETP.
The prime minister's advisor hoped the leather sector will turn around as they are working on making it environmentally compliant.
"Savar CETP will be able to get certification from the Leather Working Group (LWG)," added Salman.
On condition of anonymity, a leather entrepreneur told The Business Standard, "A completely functional CETP is mandatory for LWG certification. The construction of the CETP in Savar remained on hold since 2017. We are gradually losing foreign market opportunities because of this."
LWG certification is a mandatory prerequisite for any leather goods to have access to the US, EU and other reputed markets.
Only three Bangladeshi tanneries - Apex Footwear Limited, Austan Limited and Riff Leather Limited - have LWG certifications.
Salam F Rahman further said that they suggested the government to allow the large manufacturers to establish an ETP.
Though there is an objection from the small tanneries, as large will not pay for CETP.
Leather export dipped
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the leather sector experienced a bitter taste in earnings that the billion-dollar earner sector fell by 21.79 percent to $797.6 million in FY20.
There are two other reasons- environmental non-compliance and single market China dependency, industry insiders said.
Bangladesh fetched $1.01 billion from leather and leather goods export in FY19, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).